THE tourism minister has said he is "confident and optimistic" that Salisbury will recover economically following the nerve agent attack.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Michael Ellis said the government was "keen" to hear from the business sector about how to support the city in its recovery.

Mr Ellis visited the city today to meet with businesses leaders and take in some tourist hotspots.

He told the Journal: "I have come to Salisbury because it's a wonderful city with wonderful people, but as tourism minister I wanted to come to highlight to everyone who might be watching, reading and listening about this wonderful place just how extraordinarily attractive it is as a tourist location."

Mr Ellis visited Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury Museum and the Playhouse, followed by a lunch in the Haunch of Venison with representatives from local businesses and Salisbury city and Wiltshire councils.

He said business leaders he spoke to had felt "under pressure" in recent months "as a consequence of a downturn following the appalling attack" on Sergei and Yulia Skripal on March 4.

"However, there are signs of improvement and I have been very impressed by the resilience of local leaders," he added. "We will be keen to listen to them and their ideas for how government can be as supportive as we can be in helping things recover here."

Mr Ellis said the government would provide support to the city through funding, marketing to promote tourism nationally and internationally, and giving advice via officials from Visit Britain and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The government has allocated £2.5million in total at the moment towards Salisbury and Wiltshire to help with the recovery .

Mr Ellis added: "The culture department has allocated £100,000 to Visit Wiltshire, we have also allocated £100,000 from the GREAT Campaign to support Salisbury internationally in marketing and there's over £2million allocated elsewhere to support businesses in their recovery, and to help this area get through a difficult moment.

"This city has the most extraordinary heritage buildings, with Stonehenge nearby, with the cathedral in the heart of the city and even, of course, right here in the Haunch of Venison, we have real antiquity.

"I want to encourage everyone to know that Salisbury is a safe place to visit and it's a great place to visit.

"There's so much here in this area. There's a good reason why it's been in this area for so long. That won't go away, that will always be here.

"In the face of this recent adversity I have been impressed by the resilience of Salisbury people and I am confident and optimistic that things will come back in due course and the government wants to help that as much as we possibly can."