CHESTER and Cheshire is one of five tourism boards to receive millions of pounds worth of funding to boost one of the most important industries in the current economic climate.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency has announced it will grant a total of £20.6million across the five tourism boards in the region, including Visit Chester and Cheshire. The package aims to ensure the board maintains a strong position within the tourism business.

The amount being allocated to Cheshire and Chester has not yet been finalised, but it is thought the region will receive around £4m. The package is due to be implemented from April 1, spreading the spending over three years.

Barry Kelly, commercial manager of Visit Chester and Cheshire, said: “This funding is good because as we’ve seen, most public sector money is being cut.”

The grant is to be spent across four key areas; strategy and leadership; destination marketing, business development and district communications.

By investing in these areas, it is hoped to improve the value of tourism, attract more of the right tourists, develop smaller businesses and boost communications with visitors.

Mr Kelly added: “The last three years have been positive for tourism in Chester. The city is in a relatively strong position, as is Cheshire, and in the last 12 months we’ve done better than most. It’s going to be a tough year, or a tough couple of years. We’re not overconfident but we’re not pessimistic.”

The funding received from the NWDA will not be the sole investment in the area. Visit Chester and Cheshire will use the grant to bring in further support from private sector partners.

James Berresford, director of tourism at the NWDA, said: “The current economic climate will inevitably have an impact on the tourism industry which is why it is now more important than ever for us to continue to invest in the region’s tourism offer.”