Building on our success.
UNLIKE rather too many industries these days, the tourism sector is growing strongly.
And the North East is already punching above its weight. Visitors to the region spent more than PS4bn in the region last year, making a sizeable contribution to the estimated PS23bn spent across the UK.
But there is so much more potential. People love to travel and the North East, with attractive cities like Newcastle and Durham, superb countryside in Northumberland and Durham and the best collection of castles anywhere, is well placed to satisfy every tourist.
Now the UK's first tourism sector deal has been announced with plans for five zones across the country. Those zones would get financial support for promotion, business mentoring and skills training.
The bid is being launched by the North East LEP, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, the North of Tyne Combined Authority and the North East Combined Authority. That's quite a lot of different organisations for just one bid, but that will matter little as long as the bid is successful.
We are undergoing changes in more traditional industries - such as the car industry - and some of those changes are unwelcome. There's uncertainty on many fronts going forward.
It is vital, then, that the North East builds on that PS4bn tourist spend and the 15,000 jobs it supports. Let's hope for the best from