A TASKFORCE has been created to boost tourism in the region.

The interim Regional Tourism Forum (iRTF) is headed by the former chief executive of the British Tourist Authority, Jeff Hamblin, and brings together experts in the fields of hospitality, skills, marketing and culture.

It includes representatives from inside and outside the region, with expert guidance being provided by One NorthEast and Northumbria Tourist Board.

The short-term taskforce will look at issues and opportunities in tourism, with a view to bringing hundreds more jobs in the sector to the region.

Tim Cantle-Jones, board member for tourism at One NorthEast, said: "The formation of iRTF was a recognition that there was a wealth of experience that could be drawn upon to direct a programme of support for the sector, and I am delighted that such a high calibre of people are now sitting around the table to see the way forward for tourism."

Among the taskforce's members are chef and restaurateur, Terry Laybourne; Marriott Gosforth Park manager, Stewart Lorimer; and Neil Rami, of the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative.

Key players from the four sub-regional partnerships and local authority representatives will ensure wide geographical representation.

One of the group's first tasks will be taking up the challenges set out in the new regional tourism framework, compiled by Northumbria Tourist Board and backed by One NorthEast.