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On your marks – North East businesses briefed on benefits of the Games

7th June 2011

Categories: Latest News

Businesses from across NewcastleGateshead and the wider region were under starters orders this morning at a breakfast briefing, hosted by NewcastleGateshead Initiative, designed to inform and enthuse partners about the London 2012 Olympic Games.

As the UK steps up preparation for the world’s greatest event in a year’s time, NewcastleGateshead Initiative is driving forward work to maximise some of the potential benefits for the region, including improved external perceptions, greater profile and a major boost for the visitor economy in both the short and long term.

Today’s event, attended by over 250 representatives from a wide range of businesses, outlined the many associated events, activities and opportunities - from Olympic football at St James’ Park, the Olympic Torch Relay and exciting new cultural events across North East England, to tourism and international profile opportunities across the world’s media.

Speakers included Roger Mosey, BBC’s director of London 2012, leader of Newcastle City Council (the host council for Olympic football at St James’ Park) Cllr Nick Forbes, Simon Roberson, regional partnership director from BT (corporate sponsors of the Games),  Tess Longfield, head of international destination PR  at national tourist board VisitBritain and NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s chief executive, Sarah Stewart.

Speaking after the event, Sarah Stewart said: “We were delighted that the event was a success and really seems to have engaged and inspired our partners, which was the aim.

“We feel strongly that, as a region, we can’t just sit back with a cynical smile and maintain that the Olympics will only make a difference in London; if we did, we would all be guilty of failing to seize a once in a generation opportunity. As individuals we have unparalleled access to the world’s greatest event, but more importantly we all, as businesses and organisations, must maximise the opportunities on offer for the benefit of NewcastleGateshead and North East England as a whole.”

The event, compered by BBC Look North presenter, Jeff Brown, also featured a question and answer session with Olympians and Paralympians Stephen Miller, Chris Cook and Allison Curbishley, who provided an insight into their personal experiences of competing and what it might mean for local young athletes as they prepare towards 2012.

Football is a major feature of the Olympic programme here in the region next year. Due to the intense event schedule, the competition kicks off two days before the opening ceremony – meaning the eyes of the world, and significantly the world’s media, will be on Newcastle and St James’ Park, alongside the other football venues of Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester and Coventry: St James’ Park will stage nine matches on six days between 26 July and 4 August 2012, including the men’s quarter final.

Sarah added: “In the work that we do to promote NewcastleGateshead as a visitor destination, our aspirations are long term. While encouraging visitors to travel here during 2012, it's equally important that we play a role in inspiring them to visit post-Games.

“Having showcased the sporting venues as well as the great icons and imagery of Britain within global media coverage, which is estimated to reach an audience of 4 billion, we must capitalise on the increased positive coverage, to entice visitors to destinations such as ours.”

In order to inspire consumer and trade confidence during 2012, NewcastleGateshead Initiative is urging all tourism businesses, large and small, to sign up to VisitBritain's Fair Pricing Charter (see notes to editors); work is also underway to help shape a coordinated programme of culture during Olympics year, including a brand new NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival, specially commissioned to tie in with Olympic Football in Newcastle in August 2012 and piloting this year on 13 and 14 August 2011. 

With the Games previously considered inaccessible to many businesses in the region, NewcastleGateshead Initiative concluded the event by setting out a number of simple ways that organisations and their staff can actively get involved.  To find out more visit



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

For more details about VisitBritain’s Fair Pricing Charter visit:


The London 2012 Olympic Games – key facts:

-  19 days of competition

-  10,500 athletes

-  205 countries represented

-  26 different sports

-  302 gold medals up for grabs

-  Football will feature 16 men’s and 12 women’s international football teams

-  74 locations visited on the Torch Relay route nationally

-  20 million tickets were applied for in the ballot

-  1.8 million people submitted ticket requests

-  An estimated global audience of 4 billion people are expected to watch the opening ceremony on 27 July 2012 

-  Revenue from tourists attracted by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is forecast to add up to an additional £2.1bn for the economy

-  To see a full daily competition schedule of all sporting events, visit

·  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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