Clegg urges new vision for Northern tourism

DEPUTY prime minister Nick Clegg is to commit £10m to a more “joined-up” tourism strategy for the North.

Mr Clegg said it was “absurd” that the North lagged behind other destinations despite boasting “stunning countryside, history and culture”.

Government figures suggest the North only accounted for 22% of all visits to English tourist attractions, while 30% of visitors to the UK do not travel outside the capital.

He wants to bring together the local knowledge of the 29 individual tourism boards to make it easier for visitors to find out about a range of attractions, giving the example that a tourist planning a tour of ancient Britain would have to log onto three different websites to find out about Hadrian’s Wall, York’s Viking history and the Roman history of Chester.

Mr Clegg also wants to market the existing strengths of Northern cities and put together a plan for bringing more people to the North. According to the Government four-and-a-half times as many visitors flock to London, than to the North. Its figures show more people visited the British Museum than all tourist attractions in the North East put together last year, and Scotland has twice as many tourists as Yorkshire or the entire North West.

Mr Clegg, a Sheffield MP, said: “It’s absurd that our great North is missing out on visitors when it boasts such stunning countryside, history and culture. Through the Northern Futures project, I asked people what our Northern cities needed in order to compete globally, and to grow.

“A strong Northern future relies on putting the North back on the map: a top tourist destination. From next year, I’m putting funding in place for there to be a clear strategy for tourism in the North, bringing harmony to the current offer from 29 individual tourism boards into one great offer.”