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Volume 932: debated on Friday 20 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has given further consideration to the Government's proposals to introduce more tourism to fragile districts of the development areas.

In the light of advice from the statutory Tourist Boards and others, my colleagues and I believe it should be possible to establish new growth points for tourism within the development areas. Extensive parts of these areas are not industrialised and have great scenic and recreational possibilities which have so far been only partially realised. We cannot neglect these if we are to build on the success of our tourism market. With careful handling, a much needed source of new prosperity could be introduced without environmental harm. The Tourist Boards can consider applications for financial help under Section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969. But where individual resources are particularly limited it will be necessary for a wide variety of community, trade and investment interests to work in partnership and we conclude that the Tourist Boards should now take the initiative in offering help and encouragement.In the current economic climate, it will not be possible to increase overall Government expenditure on tourism. So if we are to hypothecate any significant part of these limited resources, it would be right to introduce such a policy on a pilot basis.In England I wish to have the possibilities pursued further in three relatively limited geographical areas for schemes regarded by the English Tourist Board as suited to their individual possibilities and characteristics. Each scheme consists of a number of inter-related projects which, associated with suitable marketing, could attract the attention of tourists more effectively than random developments. Investment over a period of three-four years would be of the order of £2·5–3 million in each case. Provided assurance is forthcoming of the right kind of cooperation, including independent finance, to offer a satisfactory prospect for the scheme as a whole, I shall be prepared to authorise injection of some of the required finance under Section 4.I have asked the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and the Chairman of the English Tourist Board to visit the pilot areas provisionally selected in the next few weeks to sound out the communities which would be affected and the interests whom it is hoped would be involved in implementation of schemes. The districts concerned are the High Pennines from Teesside to the South Tyne Valley; Scarborough; and the area from Bude to Wadebridge.