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Region makes its voice heard at tourism chief visit

4th November 2010

Categories: Latest News

National tourism chief James Berresford, CEO of Visit England, is today (Thursday 4 November) visiting NewcastleGateshead to meet industry leaders from across North East England.

Invited to the area by destination marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative and area tourism partnership Tourism Tyne and Wear, he is attending two events hosted on behalf of the regional tourism industry to discuss current challenges and future priorities at both a regional and national level.

The meetings, taking place at The Great Hall in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum, will provide a valuable opportunity for representatives from private sector tourism businesses – from attractions and hotels to tour guides and transport operators – as well as key tourism organisations to hear first-hand how government policy is shaping the tourism agenda.

In March 2011 the existing Tourism Network North East will cease to exist as regional development agency funding for area tourism partnerships ends. Working in collaboration NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Tourism Tyne & Wear, Northumberland Tourism, Visit County Durham and Hadrian’s Wall Heritage are forging a new tourism alliance, seeking to develop new ways of working with local and national partners to continue the successful growth of the regional visitor economy, accelerated by the massive investment by One North East over the last five years.

An estimated 63,000 jobs are now reliant on the £2.5 billion a year spent by 83 million visitors, representing 5.9% of North East GVA compared with an average 1.4% GVA from other sectors of the regional economy. Visitor spend rose by £117m last year a three percent rise on 2008 and a six per cent increase over the past seven years.

Sarah Stewart, interim chief executive at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “We’ve invited James Berresford here today to help ensure that the region’s voice is heard. Tourism organisations and businesses across North East England are facing a challenging future and we hope to share our concerns, some proposed solutions, as well as exploring how we fit within the changing national agenda.

“The North East tourism industry has achieved a great deal in the last few years, boosting visitor numbers and spend, changing outdated perceptions and dramatically raising the profile of our destinations regionally, nationally and internationally. 

“Working as an alliance across the region, we must now ensure that we continue to engage effectively with national partners, in particular influencing and delivering national tourism policy.”

James Berresford said: “I’m delighted to be here in NewcastleGateshead today. Despite a reduction to our core funding, we are working hard to ensure that VisitEngland continues to meet our fundamental goal to grow the value of domestic tourism. As a result, an immediate focus for VisitEngland has been to work with the industry across the country to provide solutions that will ensure tourism is supported as the regional development agencies’ funding ceases.

“While cuts in funding inevitably pose challenges, it also provides us with opportunities to do things in new ways and I am keen to hear from partners here today about ideas and opportunities for the future.”

The newly proposed tourism alliance of North East destinations, including Hadrian’s Wall, aims to focus on tourist destinations that make sense to both customer and businesses, and not those dictated by administrative boundaries. 

The alliance has already written to MPs and local politicians to outline proposals for the future development of tourism across the region and to seek transitional funding and support.

Sarah Stewart added: “The value of tourism in NewcastleGateshead alone is worth £1.23billion, a significant 61% of the North East’s entire visitor economy in 2009. NewcastleGateshead is also recognised as one of the core brands for the region, directly attracting visitors to the area.

“As one of the few tourism organisations with secured funding going forward, we are subsequently well placed to play a leading role in the destination management and marketing for the city region and are continuing to adapt and develop partnerships, such as strong links with VisitEngland, to help shape a successful future for the region’s tourism industry.”

Notes to editors

For further information: Kathie Wilcox, Senior Media & PR Manager, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, T. +44 (0)191 440 5742, E.,

What is NewcastleGateshead Initiative?
Newcastle Gateshead Initiative is a destination marketing agency; a public-private partnership supported by Gateshead and Newcastle City Councils, working with 165 private sector member organisations across NewcastleGateshead and the wider region.

Everything NewcastleGateshead Initiative does aims to promote NewcastleGateshead as a world-class destination, through targeted marketing and PR campaigns regionally, nationally and internationally and through the work of its highly successful cultural programming team and convention bureau.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative is supported by an advisory board offering expertise from a range of sectors and professions. We also work with a wide range of partners, stakeholders, businesses and members who all share our ambition to promote NewcastleGateshead as a world-class place in which to live, learn, work, and visit.

What is Tourism Tyne and Wear?
Tourism Tyne and Wear was formed in 2007 as a partnership of stakeholders involved in developing and promoting the visitor experience in Tyne and Wear. 
Its aim is to improve the experience and quality of product for visitors, by delivering and coordinating activity to increase the value of the tourism economy.
The Partnership is directed and supported by an advisory board of 11 members appointed on Nolan Principals and represents members of the Local Authorities, transport providers, accommodation providers and attractions.

Tourism Tyne and Wear is a partner in the Tourism Network North East alongside area tourism partnerships from County Durham, Northumberland and the Tees Valley; it works closely with the Local Authorities and NewcastleGateshead Initiative, improving the visitor experience through partnership working.

What is VisitEngland?

VisitEngland is the strategic leadership body representing the public and private sector stakeholders of English Tourism.  It works in partnership with VisitBritain, the Regional Development Agencies and local authorities, and the private sector, creating a national tourism strategy, optimising marketing investment, and developing the visitor experience across England.

VisitEngland’s role is to be the custodian of the England tourism strategy and the authority for tourism in England.

VisitEngland’s overall goal is to support England’s tourism industry in increasing propensity for domestic and international visitors to take breaks, holidays and day trips in England, resulting in increased consumer spending.

Before April 2009, VisitEngland existed as an advisory board to the England marketing division within VisitBritain. Following consultation with the tourism industry via the British Tourism Framework Review, the need for a separate and distinct body for tourism within England was identified.  VisitEngland was launched in April 2009.

Enjoy England
Enjoy England is VisitEngland’s consumer-facing brand used in domestic market campaigns throughout the UK. In international markets, the VisitEngland brand will be used.

News releases and copyright-free, hi-res images of NewcastleGateshead are available at

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