Deputy Prime Minister Calls For Strategy To Boost Tourism In The North

5 November 2014
  • London has 4.5 times more international visitors than the North of England as a whole. Scotland has twice as many tourists as Yorkshire or the entire North West.
  • London is not this country’s only tourist destination – the North boasts stunning countryside, history and culture.
  •  But how would anyone know that when there is no strategy for selling the North as a tourist destination. 30 per cent of UK visitors chose not to travel beyond London because they simply didn’t know what there was to see outside the capital.
  • I launched a major project called Northern Futures – asking people in the North what our Northern cities needed in order to compete globally, and to grow.
  • I’ve heard from businesses, local people, academics and council leaders. Your resounding call is clear – a strong Northern future relies on putting the North back on the map. Including making the region a top tourist destination with great transport, and thriving industry such as technology.
  • On the eve of the Northern Futures Summit I’m responding to your calls for a coherent strategy for attracting tourists.
  • And that is why I’m making available £10m of government money to back proposals for a clear strategy for tourism in the North, bringing harmony to the current offer from 29 individual tourism boards into one great offer.
  • Creating a vision and plan will bring more visitors on holiday from at home and abroad to our great Northern cities. As the most senior member of the cabinet representing the North, I’m passionate about the region. However, this isn’t for Whitehall to deliver. It’s important that this strategy is led by those already championing tourism in the North.
  • I’m in Leeds hosting the Northern Futures Summit this Thursday to bring creative minds from across the North together so that we can grow more ideas like this into a reality.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg 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.

‘Your resounding call is clear – 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.’

Minister for Tourism Helen Grant said:
“I grew up in Carlisle and know first-hand how important tourism is to the North of England. So I’m passionate about championing the vibrant culture, fascinating heritage and stunning landscapes the north offers to tourists. This £10 million fund will build on the success of the Government’s tourism strategy to date, which has bought record numbers of visitors and spend to the UK. But we want to see a greater spread of tourism across the country and this will ensure that the North benefits from this element of our long term economic plan.”

We know there are a whole host of attractions across the North which are perfect hot spots for tourism. An industry which strengthens the economy and shows off the appeal of the North. And yet, every year, we see 4.5 times more visitors flocking to our capital city, than to the North. More people visited the British Museum than all tourist attractions in the North East put together last year.
There are 9 guidebooks by one famous brand for different parts of Italy. There are just two by the same famous brand for Britain – London and Scotland. It’s high time we create a harmonious offer to tourists for the North of England as a whole; putting our much loved Northern landmarks on the map and at the top of people’s holiday wish lists.

We want to see tourists planning visits to Penny Lane and the Beatles Museum in Liverpool, rather than automatically heading to the Abbey Road crossing. Taking in the impressive York Minster and the beauty of the Lake District, rather than thinking that Buckingham Palace defines British pomp.  Touring the ground of Alnwick Castle which was used as the exterior of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, instead of Windsor Castle seeming like the only option.

So the question is how do we get people flying across the world to our great Northern cities?

Currently, there are 29 bodies pulling people to their individual localities in the North. In an age of one-stop-shop websites where people can compare holidays in Beirut to Bangalore, the North is sinking down the scoreboard.

We won’t get more people landing in the North on holiday with separate organisations competing against each other for visitors. However, if they work together with a joint vision and a strategy focusing on the best of the region, then we will have a whole much greater than the sum of its parts. 

Through the Northern Futures project, I’ve listened to your ideas and thoughts on how we communicate the greatness of the North to build a stronger economy. It’s clear we need tourism in the North to be a joint effort.

So today I’m calling for a strategy which will bring together the local knowledge of the 29 organisations, market the existing strengths of our Northern cities and pull together a plan for bringing more people to the North.


Tourism efforts aren’t joined up: If you were sitting in the US and wanted to book a holiday that explored Ancient Britain, taking in Hadrian’s Wall, York’s Viking history and the roman city of Chester, you’d need to log on to 3 different visit websites.

People aren’t visiting the North: The whole of the North only accounted for 22% of all visits to English tourist attractions.

How would we do it?

Subject to strong proposals, I will make available £10 million from the Regional Growth Fund¬ for the development of a new strategy for tourism in the North. Ring-fenced funding will be channelled into the national tourist body for our country, VisitEngland, with support from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This will need to be matched by local funds to ensure potential tourists are provided with a compelling joined up picture of what’s on offer in the North.

What does the North have to offer?

There is a cornucopia of attractions in the region, from the Lake District to the Peak District; from Penny Lane to Wilberforce House; Hadrian’s Wall, Blackpool Tower, Bettys tea rooms Harrogate, the National Football Museum, York Minster, Durham cathedral, the MAGNA Science Centre, Castle Howard and the Angel of the North. The list of international attractions is almost endless.

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