THE growing importance of tourism to the Tees Valley has been highlighted in a new study.

A report by the Tees Valley Development Company (TVDC) shows that tourism supports more than 10,000 jobs.

In recent years the tourism industry has grown, with a 30 per cent increase in people staying overnight between 1996 and 1998 and a 40 per cent growth in day-trippers.

TVDC chairman, Councillor Bob Gibson, said: "Any business sector which employs more than 10,000 people and brings £250m into the local economy is very important, but what makes tourism so remarkable is the level of growth achieved over recent years.

"All the evidence suggests that the figures will continue to climb and that the trend will be maintained into the future, especially as many millions of pounds, including £4.5m from Europe, is being invested.