A TRAIN company is offering discounted fares to York in a bid to boost tourism in the aftermath of the December floods.

Virgin Trains passengers can save 30 per cent on advance tickets to destinations in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Northumberland from February 9, if tickets are bought before the beginning of March.

The three-month promotion is in partnership with VisitEngland's #Openforbusiness initiative.

York Press:

John Whittingdale, centre, with David Horne (left) and Sir Gary Verity

The deal was announced on Monday morning by the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, on a visit to York to see how the city's tourism businesses are getting back on their feet.

He said: "A lot of people have worked very hard to get York back on its feet, and we are very keen to support them.

"The first priority was obviously to help those directly affected, but now the important thing is to help businesses many of which are based around tourism. We are very anxious to encourage people to visit Yorkshire."

He added: "During the few days when a lot of the city was affected that did make it difficult, but people overcame that very quickly and now we are anxious that people should know there is no reason not to come here and enjoy it again."

Mr Whittingdale spoke alongside Virgin Trains' East Coast boss David Horne, who said the company had wanted to "do our bit" to help communities in Yorkshire and Cumbria recover from the floods.

The discount tickets can be used during March, April, and the first half of May, he said.

The offer has been welcomed by Yorkshire tourist boss Sir Gary Verity, who said he wanted to see people make the most of it during the Easter holidays and February half term, and over the Tour de Yorkshire during the first May bank holiday.

They want to get the "open for business" message out as much as possible, he added.

"The floods were clearly a tragedy for anyone whose home or business was affected.

"But it would be a bigger tragedy if as a result anyone was to lose their livelihood."

Less than one per cent of the county had been affected by the floods, he added, but Welcome to Yorkshire had taken scores of calls from people across the world asking how areas were coping with the flood waters.

A number of travel firms are offering discounts, such as three nights for the price of two on accommodation in Cumbria via GoLakes.

Business leaders in the county have previously said the area has been "catastrophically" affected by repeated flooding in recent weeks.

Discounted train tickets will be available to destinations such as Carlisle, Lancashire, Oxenholme and Penrith of the west coast route and Berwick-upon-Tweed, Doncaster, Leeds and York on the east coast.

The fares will be available three weeks before the date of travel.