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News release - Issued by Department for Culture Media & Sport

Culture Secretary visits York to promote Northern Tourism and support region hit by recent floods

• Announces £15,000 flood relief funding for community sports grounds
• Launches discounted tickets scheme on Virgin Trains to encourage visitors to Northern destinations
• Visits York Minster, Clifford’s Tower and National Railway Museum
• Visit comes after Prime Minister’s launch of £1m marketing campaign to promote tourism in flood-affected areas in North, including Yorkshire

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale visited York today to see how the city has recovered from the Boxing Day floods and highlight government support for tourism in the North.

The Secretary of State launched a new discount ticket offer from Virgin Trains that will support tourism to the historic towns, cities, countryside and parks across Yorkshire, Lancashire, Northumberland and Cumbria during the February half-term holiday.

Mr Whittingdale was joined by Kate McMullen, Head of Consumer Products and Marketing from York’s tourist body Make It York and Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. They attended the launch of Virgin Train’s 30 per cent discount on advance fares offer from London to the North.
During the visit, Mr Whittingdale also announced £15,000 worth of grants from Sport England that will help three local sports facilities to be repaired and renovated after they were affected by flooding.

The grants have been awarded to York City Rowing Club, Bolton Percy Cricket Club and Wilberfoss Kexby and Newton Playing Fields Association.
Mr Whittingdale’s visit comes a week after the Prime Minister announced £1 million of funding to promote staycations across the previously flood-affected regions. The VisitEngland campaign will encourage British families to spend their Easter break in the north of England.

Mr Whittingdale said: "The historic city of York is one of the crown jewels of the North and a wonderful place to visit.

“We understand the difficulties faced by those businesses which were directly affected by the flooding. It is great to see the way everyone has rallied to overcome these and send a clear message that the city welcomes visitors and is open for business.

“York- like many areas across the North- is already benefitting from Government support and our new £1 million campaign will help encourage even more people to visit the city in the coming weeks and months."

During the visit, the Culture Secretary was given a tour of Clifford’s Tower by Kate Mavor, Chief Executive of English Heritage. The 13th century tower was surrounded by water as a result of the floods but remained open for business. English Heritage is providing £2.6 million of investment for improvement works to the site to help bring more visitors to the Tower.

Mr Whittingdale was also given a tour of York Minster and shown how its restoration project, supported by £10.5 million of Heritage Lottery Funding, has progressed.

He completed the visit to York with a tour of the National Railway Museum, that will be returning the famous Flying Scotsman locomotive to service on the mainline this year. Supported by £1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the museum has developed a search engine, which allows visitors to view previously unseen artwork, artefacts and photographs.


Sport England’s Director of Property, Charles Johnston said: “Our emergency flood fund is about helping community sport get back on its feet as quickly as it can. We are pleased to have been able to help clubs across Yorkshire, who have shown impressive community spirit in helping to restore local facilities, and we remain committed to working with them in the long-term so that full services can be restored.”

Kate McMullen, Head of Consumer Products and Marketing, Make It York said: “It's fantastic news that the government is investing in tourism promotion for York and the North of England. Make It York is working very closely with VisitEngland, government, Virgin Trains East Coast, key partners in Yorkshire and with other destinations affected by the recent flooding to make sure we are able to re-double our marketing.

“This is an especially crucial time for planning short breaks and holidays. We will be targeting would be visitors in London and the South East, highlighting a raft of new reasons to visit York this year such as the return of the Flying Scotsman, the new exhibitions at our museums and the JORVIK Viking Festival this February.

“This investment will boost our marketing activity making sure visitors put York firmly on their must visit list for 2016.”

Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said:

"This is an important initiative from Virgin Trains which will play a part in helping Yorkshire recover from the recent flooding. We know that many businesses that weren't affected by the floods have seen lower visitor numbers because of the perception that the whole of Yorkshire was affected. This fantastic promotion covers some of the important upcoming holidays including February half-term, Easter and the first May bank holiday weekend which is when the Tour de Yorkshire takes place. I'd encourage everyone to take up this offer and visit our great county by train."