Tourism minister welcomed to Wetherby Racecourse

Government Minister for Sport, Tourism, and Equalities Helen Grant.

Government Minister for Sport, Tourism, and Equalities Helen Grant.

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The government Minister for Sport, Tourism, and Equalities visited delegates at Wetherby Racecourse today (January 16, 2015).

Helen Grant, who is also the MP for Maidstone and The Weald in Kent, arrived in the town to promote tourism in the north.

She spoke to representatives from the racecourse, Visit Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Museum, and other regional organisations about what the north has to offer.

This visit comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced plans to make £10m worth of funds available to back a tourism strategy for the north in November 2014.

This proposal is part of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), and is intended to help build on the north’s growing popularity with tourists, and the role of tourism within the country’s economic growth.

Mrs Grant said: “I think the north has an absolutely fantastic offer in terms of history, culture, scenery, and sport.

“I grew up in Cumbria and lived there until my early 20s, so I know how special this location of our country is.

“We are set to see record visitor numbers and record spend this year, likely to hit £22bn, and we want the whole of our country to benefit.

“Towns like Wetherby absolutely have a part to play in this. You have a fantastic race course here and it is incredibly beautiful, so everyone has their part to play, most definitely.

“I came here just before the Tour de France Grand Depart and that was very stirring, and it was good to see the community involvement within that. We are delighted it was a success.”

Mrs Grant’s visit follows similar arrivals from Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, who spent time with a technology business last week.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, and Minister for Schools and Families Nick Gibb have also come to the town in the months since July 2014.

Mr Osborne, who visited a textile business on Sandbeck Industrial Estate, introduced his ‘northern powerhouse’ plan for the area.

Intended to connect major cities in the north of England, Mrs Grant said the tourism fund and tourism generally is part of that overall growth-focused project.

“With regard to this £10m tourism fund for the north, I had a very good meeting with a number of tourism organisations this morning in Sheffield,” she said.

“There will be a further meeting on January 22, 2015 in Manchester to work on the plan further, but what we want to see is partnerships working together.

“This is definitely part of the Northern Powerhouse idea. Tourism is a vital part of our long term economic plan and it is very important for the future, so we are backing it fully.

“Everybody I have met today has been extremely positive. We all want it to work and I am sure it will.”

Also in the north today Mr Osborne visited two science hubs based in Daresbury and Ince in the north west to see how some of that region’s share of £5.9 billion of government investment in science will contribute to creating a northern powerhouse.

Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke said of Mrs Grant’s visit: “This shows the importance of our area that once again we have a government minister coming to see what we can offer, especially in terms of tourism and sporting events.

“Wetherby Racecourse is a major player in the economic foundation of our town and our surrounding villages and we want to make sure the minister sees how great assets in our area can benefit from the £10m tourism fund for the north.”