More than 50 jobs are likely to be lost at one of the North East’s leading tourist attractions.

Beamish Museum has announced plans for 59 redundancies, which would amount to almost 15% of its workforce, after a four-month closure and continuing low visitor numbers took a huge toll on the centre’s finances.

The museum, which has won numerous awards in recent years and is expanding its range of attractions, gets most of its income from visitors but the tourism sector has been among those hardest hit by the coronavirus lockdown.

Beamish re-opened in July with visitors having to pre-book slots, while added sanitation, hygiene and social distancing measures to put in place.

Rhiannon Hiles, Beamish’s deputy director, said: “We are deeply saddened that as Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on the museum, we have had to take the step of placing a number of roles at risk of redundancy, subject to collective consultation.

“As a charity, 95% of our income comes from our visitors. The mandatory four-month closure due to Covid-19, and recent reopening with restricted capacity, have had a major impact on our visitor numbers and our finances.

“We have been doing everything we possibly can to secure the future of Beamish, including launching a fundraising campaign, reducing our costs and applying for all support and loans available to us, and we continue to take every possible step to ensure the long-term sustainable future of the museum.

“However, despite this, like many organisations across the museums, heritage and tourism sectors, Covid-19 has had a devastating and unprecedented impact. At Beamish, where we have more than 400 much-valued employees, we have been left with no option but to take the incredibly difficult decision to begin a period of collective consultation.

“This unfortunately means we have had to put 59 roles at risk of redundancy, subject of course to the outcome of the consultation. Our people mean so much to us and we will seek to retain as many of the 59 roles as possible as we work through this difficult period.”

A number of initiatives have been launched in recent weeks to prop up the North East tourism industry after a disastrous summer that is thought to have cost thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of pounds from the local economy.