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Volume 593: debated on Thursday 26 February 2015

The tourism industry was worth an estimated £127 billion, gross value added, to the UK economy in 2013. Some £56 billion of that is direct contribution. Tourism supports 3.1 million jobs in the UK.

The economy of Staffordshire and Tamworth has a growing leisure and tourism component, but that is putting an increasing strain on our transport infrastructure. Will my hon. Friend encourage the Department for Transport and Staffordshire county council to invest in local roads so that they will be fit for our leisure economy?

Last December, as my hon. Friend knows, the Government announced £1.4 billion for road investment in the midlands, creating about 900 new construction jobs for the area. That will help to support the leisure industry in the whole of the region, including Tamworth.

Tourism makes an important contribution to the north-east’s economy, but north-east tourism attractions and projects are missing out on European funding. Will the Minister intervene to support job creation and growth in the region?

There are considerable efforts to ensure job creation and growth in the area. The north-east is a fabulous area for tourism. Our local growth fund, the regional growth fund, the coastal communities fund and the rural development programme, which effectively involves European money, are pockets of funding that could certainly benefit the hon. Lady’s constituency.

Does the Minister agree that food tourism is now vitally important to the British economy? Will she send her congratulations to Craig Bancroft and Nigel Haworth of Northcote hotel, who for 15 years have successfully run a food festival called Obsession, which runs for 15 days with five courses with matching wines of international and national repute? If I send her the date for next year, will she put it in her diary? I may be able to get Nigel Haworth to make her his traditional Lancashire hotpot.

That sounds great. I can’t wait—I love Lancashire hotpot. Yes, please send me an invitation. Many congratulations on those food tourism efforts.