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Region makes voice heard during minister’s tourism tour

23rd June 2011

Categories: Latest News

Tourism and heritage minister John Penrose MP will today (Thurs 23 June) visit major attractions in North East England as part of a whistle-stop tour hosted by NewcastleGateshead Initiative, on behalf of the Northern Tourism Alliance.

A packed itinerary includes tours of visitor highlights Vindolanda, BALTIC and The Sage Gateshead, as well as meetings with businesses and key tourism representatives from across the region to discuss the current challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

Working together, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Northumberland Tourism, Visit County Durham, the North East Hoteliers Association and Hadrian’s Wall Heritage forged the Northern Tourism Alliance earlier this year.

The Alliance has collaborated to plan today’s visit as it develops new ways of working with local and national partners, including the private sector, to continue the successful growth of the regional visitor economy which is currently valued at £3.9bn and employs almost 65,000 people.

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “We are delighted to welcome John Penrose to the region. At a time when tourism organisations and businesses across North East England are facing a challenging future, this is a key opportunity to showcase our fantastic visitor offer to the minister, as well as a valuable opportunity to ensure that the region’s voice is heard.

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tourism industry here has achieved a great deal in the last few years: boosting visitor numbers and spend, changing outdated perceptions and dramatically raising the profile of our destinations nationally and internationally. 

“Working as an alliance across the region, and alongside private sector partners, we must ensure that we continue to engage effectively at a national level, in particular with those influencing and delivering national tourism policy. Today’s visit is a significant opportunity to do just that.”

John Penrose MP, minister for tourism and heritage, said: ““As we look to boost the number of holidays people take at home as well as encourage more visitors from abroad to visit the UK, it’s great to see first-hand the fantastic tourism offer available in the North East. I’m looking forward to meeting  everyone involved in tourism in the area to hear about the opportunities and issues facing them and to discuss how to get even more people to visit this wonderful part of the country.”

Accompanied by a representative from national tourist board VisitEngland, which assisted in the planning of the visit, Mr Penrose starts his trip to the region at Vindolanda on Hadrian’s Wall.

The Vindolanda Trust has had a phenomenal start to the summer season seeing a rise in visitor figures of over 40% following a £6m redevelopment of both Vindolanda at Bardon Mill and the Roman Army Museum at Greenhead.  

Mr Penrose met representatives of 15 small tourism businesses from County Durham, Northumberland and Hadrian’s Wall Country at Vindolanda to hear their views on the industry.

Commenting on the visit, chief executive of Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Linda Tuttiett said: “Our work with tourism businesses, and in promoting Hadrian’s Wall Country as a key domestic and international tourist destination, has been recognised in the government’s tourism policy. 

“Around the world in recent years governments, local authorities, tourism marketing organisations and businesses have started to realise that the World Heritage designation is more than simply a heritage label. It can be an important ingredient in effective placemaking to attract talent, trade and tourism.

“The 150 mile Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site has potential to attract many more visitors to the north of England and this year, with the opening and coordinated marketing of the new galleries at Tullie House, Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum, there are even more compelling reasons for visitors to stay longer.  Together with our partner organisations, businesses and Roman site owners we aim to make the history and the landscape of the Roman Frontier more inviting and accessible to more people, bringing benefit to communities across Hadrian’s Wall Country.”

Mr Penrose will also tour The Sage Gateshead and BALTIC before meeting representatives from the North East tourism industry at NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s offices in Gateshead.


Media contacts

Kathie Wilcox, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, 0191 440 5742, 07766 993925,

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

Alison Fowler, Corporate Communications, Hadrian’s Wall Heritage, 07761 838641

News on Hadrian’s Wall Country is on twitter @EmperorHadrian


Notes to Editors


·  Northern Tourism Alliance: Working in collaboration NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Northumberland Tourism, Visit County Durham, North East Hoteliers Association and Hadrian’s Wall Heritage forged a new tourism alliance earlier this year. The Northern Tourism Alliance is seeking to develop new ways of working with local and national partners to continue the successful growth of the regional visitor economy. The Alliance is an ongoing partnership between several tourism organisations in the region which have indentified the mutual benefits of collaboration and co-ordination.

·  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.

·  John Penrose recently appointed Sarah Stewart, chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, to the board of VisitEngland. Following the recent launch of the Government’s tourism policy, a rigorous recruitment process was undertaken to strengthen the existing board with wider representation from destination management organisations across the country. Sarah’s appointment was announced at the end of May, alongside two other successful candidates, by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

·  Hadrian’s Wall Heritage is a not-for-profit company set up in 2006 to coordinate the management and development of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site and to market Hadrian’s Wall Country - from Ravenglass north to Bowness, Carlisle and 10 miles either side of Hadrian’s Wall through to Newcastle, Wallsend and South Shields – as a tourist destination.

·  Northumberland Tourism is the destination management organisation for Northumberland, working closely with both public and private sector organisations to promote the county and support its tourism industry. Mostly self funded through the sale of marketing opportunities to businesses, Northumberland Tourism also receives support and funding from Northumberland County Council.

·  Visit County Durham (VD) is a not-for-profit private sector company that is funded by Durham County Council and supported by One North East. It works on behalf of tourism businesses and with partners across the county, and performs the role of destination management and marketing for County Durham.


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