The pledge hopes to address the growing gap in tourist visits between London and the rest of the country. Since the recession, the number of inbound trips to London has increased by 14 per cent, while in other areas of England the number is still four per cent lower than it was pre-recession.
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 as a top tourist destination. From next year, there will be a clear strategy for tourism in the north, bringing harmony to the current offer from 29 individual tourism boards into one great offer.”
VisitEngland’s chief executive James Berresford said the organisation would be ‘working closely’ with its partners to ‘devise and implement the strategy’ that would make the best use of the money to drive tourism north.
“This commitment from the government clearly demonstrates that tourism is being increasingly recognised as a key driver of the economy which creates important jobs throughout the country,” added Berresford.
VisitBritain’s chief executive Sally Balcombe said: “This money will enable northern tourist destinations to build on their recent success, as visitors spent 16 per cent more in the north of England in 2013 than in the previous year. It will also encourage more international visitors to explore and enjoy all that this region has to offer.”
Chief executive of the British Hospitality Association Ufi Ibrahim said Clegg’s announcement was ‘very positive news’ that showed the government recognised the ‘massive potential of tourism to drive the economy forward’.
“The north of England is a good place to start with such an initiative and we would hope it will quickly grow to encompass other areas of the country,” Ibrahim said.