THE former chairman of Hartlepool-based Pubmaster has been appointed as the independent chairman of the North-East Tourism Advisory Board.

John Sands has been recruited by regional development agency One NorthEast to lead the board, which has been set up to provide a voice for the region's tourism businesses.

The 56-year-old will lead the 16 businesses and professionals that represent accommodation providers, attractions and operators, and will advise the One NorthEast tourism team on its support for businesses, development of the industry, and marketing the region as a visitor destination.

Mr Sands will help with the final selection of members of the tourism board. Following the announcement of members later this month, their first meeting will be next month, with the majority of members coming from the private sector.

Margaret Fay, chairwoman of One NorthEast, said: "Tourism currently accounts for ten per cent of the region's economy and is forecast for substantial growth. One NorthEast has strategic responsibility for developing this crucial industry, increasing its contribution to the economy and in delivering a vision for the region to become a sought-after destination 365 days a year."

Mr Sands had 22 years in the brewing industry at a senior level before Pubmaster was sold to rival Punch Taverns earlier this year. He is also a non-executive board member of Lakeland brewers Jennings Brothers, and director of Invesco English and International Trust plc.