MPs back region's tourism agency as it fights 'short-sighted' 40pc cut budget

TOURISM agency Welcome to Yorkshire is fighting plans to slash millions of pounds from its funding next year.

Regional development agency Yorkshire Forward wants to cut its 13.4m grant to the organisation by 40 per cent after having its own funding from Government slashed ahead of its abolition in 2012.

But that has sparked fury from bosses at Welcome to Yorkshire, which also attracts significant private investment and is charged with boosting the region's 7bn-a-year tourism industry.

Fifteen MPs – from all three parties – have also written to Yorkshire Forward to warn cuts on such a scale would have an "adverse and detrimental" effect on the economy and be "short sighted".

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said: "Our challenge is to sustain our activity going forwards beyond the end of our current contract, which runs to the end of March 2012, and to get the right level of funding for our current contract.

"We've been offered very generously a cut in that next year of 40 per cent which we've politely declined. We're very happy to take a cut and we've offered 20 per cent which we believe in one year is a fair share of the pain, and those discussions are ongoing."

Mr Verity says the agency has helped create 4,000 jobs over the past 18 months and aims to bring another 3bn to the region over four years.

Supporters fear a 40 per cent cut would hit the amount of private investment that could be brought in for campaigns and promotions at home and abroad.

A Yorkshire Forward spokesperson said: "We are looking for a way forward with Welcome to Yorkshire that secures their operation for the coming year, within the resources we have available."