MPs on the North East Select Committee are highlighting the importance of the North East's £3.9 billion pound tourist industry in a short report out today. The hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sector is responsible for about 89,000 jobs in the region€”making it the region's fourth biggest employer€”and over 7,000 small and medium sized businesses in the region rely on tourism.

One North East€”the regional development agency€”is praised in the report for raising the region's overall profile as a visitor destination and for introducing, a website where local tourist businesses can bring their services together online in a single place. Some 11,000 business have their products registered on the platform, and more than 46,000 bookings had been made through it by October 2009€”with a value of £6 million.

Dari Taylor MP, Chair of the Committee said:

"The fact that the North East tourism is built around thousands of small and medium sized businesses can make it easy to forget how economically important it is for the region.

"Each year tourism brings about £4 billion pounds worth of income and provides tens of thousands of jobs in the region.

"One North East has done a great job in raising the profile of the region and its website has given thousands of businesses a chance to reach extra customers.

"If we could improve the quality and choice available to people in the region in terms of places to eat and drink we could bump up visitor spend and make even more of the North East's tourist industry."

The report is the Committee's Third Report of Session 2009-10 and is published as HC 498.

The Committee announced on 20 July 2009 that it would hold an inquiry into Tourism in the North East. The Committee had intended to take evidence in the region and visit significant visitor attractions during January and February 2010 with a view to our producing a Report before the general election. The Committee altered its plans in December 2009 when Corus announced that 1,600 jobs would be lost in the region and Teesside Cast Products facilities mothballed at Redcar. The Committee accordingly announced on 11 December that it would instead inquire into the steel industry in the early part of 2010 and would have to postpone its inquiry into tourism. That short inquiry has now been completed. The imminence of the general election means that the Committee can not complete its Tourism inquiry. For that reason, the Committee felt it appropriate to produce a brief interim Report on the basis of the written submissions received from organisations within the region in response to the call for evidence.