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National tourism board appoints NewcastleGateshead Initiative chief

2nd June 2011

Categories: Convention Bureau News

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination marketing and management agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, has been selected to join the board of national tourist board VisitEngland.

Following the recent launch of the Government’s new tourism policy, a rigorous recruitment process has been undertaken to strengthen VisitEngland’s existing board with wider representation from destination management organisations across the country. Sarah’s appointment has been announced alongside two other successful candidates by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

John Penrose, the minister for tourism and heritage, has appointed Amanda Cottrell OBE, chairman of Visit Kent and vice president of the Canterbury Festival, John Hoy, chief executive of the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire, and Sarah Stewart; their terms of appointment are three, four and five years respectively, commencing 30 May 2011.

Chair of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Jamie Martin, said: “I am delighted that Sarah Stewart has been successful in her application to join the board of VisitEngland.  The appointment is important for NewcastleGateshead Initiative, as it is for many other emerging destination management organisations.”

Commenting on her appointment, Sarah said: “I’m extremely pleased to have been appointed to the board and will now be working hard to ensure that the voice of cities and destinations across England is heard at a national level.  This is a fantastic opportunity for me to represent destination marketing and management organisations, such as NewcastleGateshead Initiative, in the development and implementation of new national tourism policies.”

VisitEngland was created in April 2009 as the National Tourist Board for England. Supporting the tourism industry across the country, as the lead body for tourism in England, it is the trusted adviser to Government and the champion of the sector. Its role is to lead and drive forward the quality, competitiveness and sustainable growth of England’s Visitor Economy by providing strategic direction, intelligence and coordinated marketing for the sector.

VisitEngland chairman, Lady Cobham, commented: “We’re delighted to welcome Sarah onto the VisitEngland Board.  She brings with her great experience from both the public and private sector with particular reference to the North East.  In her current role as chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative she further strengthens representation of destination management organisations on the VisitEngland board which is a key focus for us over the coming years.”

NewcastleGateshead Initiative has been instrumental in promoting NewcastleGateshead as a leading cultural visitor destination and world-class place to live, work and study over the last 10 years, successfully leading the twin cities’ growth in leisure and business tourism, a sector which is now worth £1.2billion to the economy. 


Media Contact

Kathie Wilcox, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager, NewcastleGateshead Initiative 
T. 0191 440 5742

Get up to date information on NewcastleGateshead, follow @altweet_pet via Twitter 

Notes to Editors

• Sarah Stewart – biog summary
Sarah Stewart is Chief Executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative. From 1987 to 1991 she was Head of Regional Marketing Consultancy at Price Waterhouse, and then Marketing Director at the Sage Group plc until 1994. She then worked freelance in marketing and brand development for a wide range of national and international organisations and companies, including One North East, Newcastle Science City, Bank of Scotland and Shell International, until taking up her present position. A former Deputy Chair of both the Port of Tyne and the International Centre for Life, she is Chair of the Beamish Development Trust and a non-executive director of Northern Inventors Company Plc.  She holds no other public appointments.

• VisitEngland – further background
Through partnership and collaborative activities VisitEngland supports its partners at national and local levels to deliver excellent visitor experiences, achieve economic growth and increase investment and employment. A Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, VisitEngland is influenced by the Department’s and wider governmental priorities. It is also guided by the industry itself, with the Strategic Framework for Tourism in England 2010-2020 clearly outlining industry’s expectations of its National Tourist Board. The Board of VisitEngland is responsible for overseeing the Strategic Framework which has as its ambition a 5% growth per annum over the next 10 years.

• NewcastleGateshead Initiative is the destination marketing and management agency for NewcastleGateshead. Its mission is to position and promote NewcastleGateshead as a leading destination for leisure and business visitors through cultural programming, event bidding and high-profile, targeted destination marketing and PR activity.  Created in 2000 by Gateshead Council and Newcastle City Council as a publicly and privately funded business, NewcastleGateshead Initiative has developed a strong brand for the area - promoting it nationally and internationally as a place at the forefront of innovative culture-led regeneration and a world-class place to live, learn, work and visit.

• United by seven bridges across a spectacular riverscape, Newcastle (a city on the north bank of the River Tyne) and Gateshead (a town on the south bank) form a single, diverse and extremely vibrant visitor destination. World-class culture, vibrant nightlife, award-winning dining, inspiring heritage, fantastic shopping and acclaimed architecture are combined here like nowhere else, by the famous Geordie spirit which is symbolised by Antony Gormley’s iconic Angel of the North as it welcomes travellers to the area.

• It is estimated that visitors to NewcastleGateshead from around the UK and overseas contribute £1.23bn to the local economy; NewcastleGateshead attracted 19.28 million visitors from the UK and overseas in 2009; tourism in NewcastleGateshead supports 19,200 jobs

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

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