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Our Update


Success at International Confex

Our convention bureau was joined by businesses from across North East England in London this month, to showcase the best of what the region has to offer the meetings and events industry. Attending one of the UK’s leading trade exhibitions, International Confex, the team secured enquiries worth a potential £4.9m to the local economy. While there, we also launched the new-look Conferences, Events & Accommodation Guide which provides event organisers with all the information they need in a single publication. 

International Confex connects event organisers with an exciting lineup of venues, destinations and event support services. 

Paul Szomoru, Head of Business Tourism, said: “It was a pleasure to attend International Confex again this year. The show is a key part of our annual calendar of events. With continual new developments happening in NewcastleGateshead and around the region, it is important we continue to connect with existing contacts as well as building additional connections and developing new business leads. 

“The team and I were delighted to meet with a range of conference and event organisers from associations and corporations. We look forward to working with these contacts going forward with the aim of bringing even more conferences and events into the region – and delivering a boost to the local economy.” 

NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau was joined at International Confex by the following local venues and suppliers:

  • R&B Group.
  • Sage Gateshead.
  • Newcastle United Football Club.
  • Sunderland Association Football Club & Hilton Garden Inn.
  • Hilton NewcastleGateshead.
  • Mercure Newcastle County Hotel.

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Invest Newcastle at MIPIM

Last week (15 – 18 March) our Invest Newcastle team attended the world’s leading property trade show – to attract potential investment to Newcastle and the wider region. Joined by representatives from Newcastle City Council and 12 private-sector business partners from across the wider North East, we presented Newcastle on an international stage shinning a light on the city’s offering and strengths to a global audience; MIPIM brings together the most influential players from across all of the international property sectors. 

Positioned in a prominent location, the Invest Newcastle stand and branding was visible on the main walkway, peaking passers-by interest and encouraging them onto the stand. Newcastle was also part of a Northern Powerhouse Investment Forum in the Grand Auditorium. Pat Ritchie, chief executive of Newcastle City Council, was part of the panel debate and positioned Newcastle as a key city in the Northern Powerhouse demonstrating our strong contribution to the agenda.  

Catherine Walker, inward investment director for Invest Newcastle (at NewcastleGateshead Initiative), said: “We were delighted to exhibit at MIPIM for the first time this year and to be joined by leading North East businesses operating in the property and development industry. 

“We’ve seen increasing interest and a rise in confidence in the regional markets, as the opportunities for investment and development return. MIPIM has enabled us to showcase Newcastle and the wider region, including our Accelerated Development Zone and Enterprise Zones, on an international stage – allowing us to connect with a global audience, initiating conversations, developing new relationships and supporting the growth of the city. We look forward to continuing to build upon this work in the years to come.” 

Newcastle City Council’s support of the partnership demonstrated the collective ambition of both the public and private sector – to develop the city and strengthen the local economy. 

The private sector businesses who joined Invest Newcastle at MIPIM were:

  • Highbridge Properties.
  • Faulknerbrowns Architects.
  • Adderstone Group.
  • NE1 Limited.
  • Port of Tyne.
  • Quorum Business Park.
  • Ryder Architecture.
  • UK Land Estates.
  • Arch – The Northumberland Development Company.
  • Newcastle Science Central.
  • Citygrove.

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´╗┐Northern Powerhouse tourism showcase

Last month we joined politicians and business people from across the North at a House of Commons reception celebrating the ongoing success of the £20m Northern Tourism Growth Fund (NTGF). Invited guests heard from Minister for Tourism the Rt Hon. David Evennett MP, our chair Paul Callaghan, Sir Gary Verity, CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire and Paul Bayliss, chair of the Manchester Hotels Association, about the ambitious programme of international tourism marketing and wider travel trade and media activity – which we have played an active part in delivering this past year. 

The event was hosted by VisitEngland Chair Lady Cobham CBE, on behalf of 38 Northern England destinations and their business partners. 

Activity and success stories from the NTGF programme to date include: securing a second year of the airline route linking Newcastle and New York; a new online training module to help 45,000 overseas travel agents sell holidays to Northern England; China Welcome business training; and high-profile consumer marketing in five international markets – US, Holland, Germany, China and Australia. 

Sarah Stewart, chief executive at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “The Fund has provided the North East and wider North with a hugely valuable opportunity to not only strengthen the profile of our destinations to potential new international audiences, but to also strengthen our connections with each other, our local tourism businesses and travel partners – ultimately boosting our local economies and global connectivity. 

“The US campaign, which promoted inbound travel via the United Airlines route between New York and Newcastle, is just one example of where we have been able to pull together and deliver an impactful campaign that will help us to grow the visitor economy, especially as the flight is now set to return this spring. 

“Northern Tourism Growth Fund is a great example of the Northern Powerhouse agenda in action and has brought about a real step change in collaboration to secure future tourism growth. We’re pleased to be playing an active role in helping to realise the ambitions of the North.” 

Destination marketing and management organisations NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Visit County Durham and Northumberland Tourism have joined with South Tyneside Council, Sunderland City Council and North Tyneside Council – alongside tourism organisations from across the North of England – to help deliver the programme of activity, which is led by VisitEngland working closely with VisitBritain. Regional representatives have played an active role, including:

  • Representatives from Sunderland City Council and NewcastleGateshead Initiative joined colleagues from other northern destinations at events in Chicago to promote the North East’s offer to corporate buyers and meetings planners.
  • NewcastleGateshead Initiative joined VisitEngland, and a team of destinations from across the North, at IMEX America, which attracts thousands of conference organisers and exhibitors from across the US and around the world.
  • Visit County Durham and NewcastleGateshead Initiative attended a Dutch media event in November to help sell the North to travel journalists and bloggers.
  • Visit County Durham, as part of the content curation team, has worked hard to ensure that the North East’s most attractive assets are showcased as part of the full North of England offer.
  • Representatives from South Tyneside Council and NewcastleGateshead Initiative are on the NTGF Programme Board which is responsible for steering and driving the successful delivery of the Fund. 

The Northern Tourism Growth Fund aims to deliver an additional 3,000 jobs and £177m incremental visitor spend.

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Significant tourism growth secured

Latest results from a three-year project to grow tourism across England show significant economic impact for the North East, generating £109m worth of additional tourism spend in the region and supporting 2,043 jobs over a three-year period – far exceeding initial targets set. Delivered by our team here at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Northumberland Tourism and Visit County Durham, a series of domestic marketing campaigns between 2012 and 2015 aimed to inspire UK residents to take more holidays in North East England. 

Part of the VisitEngland-led Growing Tourism Locally project, funded by the government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF), activity included advertising in national and regional print publications, broadcast media, digital media and outdoor advertising – highlighting the very best of the region’s visitor offer. 

RGF funding was matched with private-sector funding and NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Northumberland Tourism and Visit County Durham each worked with key partners and tourism organisations in the region to deliver maximum return on investment for their campaigns. 

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “The Growing Tourism Locally programme provided a valuable opportunity to raise the profile of key North East destinations and to attract and secure significant economic growth for the area. Tourism is the fourth-largest sector of the regional economy and these latest results demonstrate both the success of our campaigns and the continued strength of the industry. The visitor economy in NewcastleGateshead alone is worth £1.4bn annually and its popularity as a city break destination continues to grow. But we’re by no means complacent; we’re continuing to deliver targeted domestic and international campaigns to market NewcastleGateshead on a national and international stage, in order to drive visitor numbers, spend and further growth in the years ahead.” 

Jude Leitch, director of Northumberland Tourism, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have confirmation of the success of our promotion as part of the Growing Tourism Locally project. This campaign came at a time when Northumberland’s tourism industry was grappling with recession and really needed a helping hand. It’s wonderful to see how much new tourism spend we managed to generate and how many additional people have benefited from jobs in tourism as a result. We are still reaping the rewards with a 4.6% increase in visitors to Northumberland during 2014 and growth expected to continue in future.” 

Michelle Gorman, managing director at Visit County Durham, said: “These fantastic results are testament not only to the strength of the region’s tourism offer, but also to the way in which our tourism industry came together to work in partnership. Many Durham businesses took up the opportunity to be part of, and benefit from, the county’s biggest ever marketing campaign. And this partnership continues, with further national marketing campaigns for Durham planned for 2016 which will build upon this success.” 

Lady Cobham CBE, chairman of VisitEngland Advisory Board said: “It is fantastic to see the results of the Growing Tourism Locally campaign which is aimed at driving growth, by encouraging Brits to book a short break at home in one of the many wonderful destinations on offer across England. The results speak for themselves. A brilliant result; promoting England as a world-class holiday destination.” 

Total annual visitor figures for the North East show that 64m visits generated a total of £3.9bn expenditure, supporting a total of 55,000 jobs in the region in 2014 (latest available figures).

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Medical research attracts major conference

NewcastleGateshead is set to host the international European Thyroid Association (ETA) in September 2018 – an event secured on the back of the destination’s strengths in science and healthcare as well as its historic links to the development of the thyroid hormone replacement, Thyroxine. The association will see 900 delegates from across Europe descend on NewcastleGateshead for their 41st Annual Meeting, pumping an estimated £1.1m into the local economy. The five-day conference is to be held at Sage Gateshead. 

Prior to this, the British Thyroid Association will hold its 64th Annual Meeting at the Centre for Life in May 2016. The British Thyroid Association’s special commemorative meeting marks the 125th anniversary of the discovery of thyroid hormone replacement therapy. 

Simon Pearce, professor of endocrinology at Newcastle University, said: "In 1891, a young Newcastle doctor, Dr. George Murray, injected an extract from a sheep’s thyroid gland into a patient with symptoms of thyroid under-activity. Over a period of months, the patient got much better, and now 125 years later around 3% of the whole population takes thyroid medicines. Considering the idea of a ‘hormone’ hadn't been invented at this time, Dr. Murray made a remarkable medical advance that millions of people continue to benefit from. 

"Due to Newcastle's history and excellence in medical research and through the support the NewcastleGateshead Conference Ambassador Programme, we were able to bid for and win both the British and European Thyroid Associations. We look forward to welcoming delegates from both associations to the city where we will play tribute to Murray's life-changing medical discovery." 

Paul Szomoru, head of business tourism at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, said: “We are delighted to be hosting both the British and European Thyroid Associations. NewcastleGateshead is internationally renowned for life sciences, healthcare and sustainability. We are proud of our history and the industry-leading research which is happening today in our city. Through our Conference Ambassador Programme we were able to support Simon in bidding for and bringing both annual meetings to the destination.” 

Newcastle is one of six designated UK Science Cities. The destination is recognised for its strengths in ageing, biomedicine and clinical trials as well as having an extensive pharmaceutical cluster, accounting for 1/3 of the UK’s turnover in pharmaceuticals. Newcastle Hospitals also undertook the UK’s largest number of clinical trials in 2015. 

NewcastleGateshead has cutting-edge facilities including the International Centre for Life and Newcastle University Institute for Ageing (NUIA), the largest facility of its kind in Europe. Newcastle University has also been awarded £20m by the government to establish the National Centre for Ageing Science and Innovation.

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