MERSEYSIDE tourism is to undergo a major restructuring with the scrapping of the North West Tourist Board and possible loss of jobs.
Half the 60-strong workforce will transfer and the remainder will be given priority in applying for new roles.
Leisure and travel chiefs claim the moves, which will see the scrapping of the 30-year-old Board, will give more power to areas like Liverpool and Warrington.
Responsibility for marketing Merseyside will be split between inward investment organisation The Mersey Partnership and the Northwest Development Agency from April.
A new body, known as a destination management organisation (DMO), will be set up to oversee tourism in Cheshire and Warrington.
Colin Doyle, North West Tourist Board's newly-appointed chairman, said the changes would ensure greater support for small companies which make up the majority of the region's tourism businesses.
He said: "We want to have more of a sub-regional approach to tourism and it was felt that the role of the North West Tourist Board is no longer needed.
"What we really want to do is ensure tourism structures are close to the ground so we can give businesses the support they need.
"We have three months to complete the move and it will be happen very smoothly but it doesn't make it any easier for the staff and telling them before Christmas was not the best meeting I've ever had."
James Beresford, NWDA head of tourism, said the organisation has carried out a review of the sector to determine its aims for the next decade.
He said: "We are in a very competitive world and the solution to that is not just marketing, it is also about skills, standards, what we have to offer and bookability online."
Thomas O'Brien, The Mersey Partnership chief executive, said: "The North West Tourist Board have done some good work over the years but it's the right time now to move ahead with a new approach to tourism marketing that will allow us to make the most of the many new opportunities that are available to us.
"This is positive news for the many private tourism businesses in Mersey-side as it will mean more money and a greater focus for tourism promotion."
Warren Bradley, Liverpool City Council executive member for culture and tourism, said the city would benefit from the changes.
He said: "I will be sorry to see the demise of the North West Tourist Board but it is a right step forward because Liverpool will probably be given more by going direct to the regional development agency for funding bids."
The North West Tourist Board, is a partnership between the English Tourism Council, British Tourist Authority, 39 local authorities and over 1,000 tourism businesses.