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NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau appoints new head

3rd October 2013

Categories: Convention Bureau News

Destination management and marketing organisation, NewcastleGateshead Initiative has appointed Paul Szomoru as Head of Business Tourism - leading the NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau after nine months as interim head of the team.

Paul has taken the helm at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau following six years at NewcastleGateshead Initiative in various business development roles. Speaking about his promotion, Paul said: “The Convention Bureau is a strong team with a worldwide reputation for attracting high profile conferences to the destination, and providing friendly, knowledgeable support to organisers.

“In the last nine months we have worked hard to focus on the destination’s key strengths and have aligned our proactive activity with that of our Inward Investment team. This is an exciting time for the Convention Bureau and I’m thrilled to take on the role permanently.”  

NewcastleGateshead Initiative Chief Executive, Sarah Stewart, said: “Paul has done a great job leading the Convention Bureau and developing the organisation’s business plan for business tourism.

“I’m delighted he has accepted the position on a permanent basis and have every faith that Paul’s skills and experience will help the team continue their success in attracting high profile national and international events.”

NewcastleGateshead has a strong track-record for attracting significant medical and scientific conferences as a result of the Convention Bureau’s proactive work with its Conference Ambassador Programme, bidding for and winning events in partnership with destination-based professionals and academics working out of Newcastle and Northumbria Universities.

Throughout the summer months, the Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons (AUGIS), the International Ethological Conference ("Behaviour 2013"), and the International Colour Association (AIC) have all held major meetings here.

Next week Sage Gateshead will host the European Academy of Childhood Disability’s annual conference (10-12 Oct) worth an estimated £400,000 to the destination. Overall this year, major events attracted by the Convention Bureau have contributed more than £7.7m to the local economy.    

Since stepping in to lead the Convention Bureau in January, Paul has set about growing the Bureau’s proactive activity in alignment with the organisation’s work to attract and sustain inward investment into NewcastleGateshead, focussing on three sectors:

1. Science and healthcare (bio-medicine, stem cell technology, ageing and health, health and social care)
2. Offshore and marine technology (energy, environment and sustainability)
3. Creative and digital (digital technology – including gaming, cultural and arts management, commercial creative, and knowledge intensive business services).

Paul started his career in hospitality at two four-star hotels in Berkshire working in proactive sales before moving back to his native North East in 2003 to be part of the management team that opened Hilton NewcastleGateshead.

Following this, Paul worked at local Professional Conference Organiser (PCO), Benchmark Communications as Sales and Marketing Manager before joining NewcastleGateshead Initiative as Business Relationship Manager in the Tourism Tyne and Wear team in 2006.

The Convention Bureau is part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, which is funded by Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council and 170 private sector partners from across North East England. Its mission is to inspire people to visit and to live, learn, work and invest in NewcastleGateshead. The organisation has been instrumental in supporting the growth of the visitor economy, which is currently worth £1.3bn and supports 18,799 jobs in the local area. An inward investment team is the most recent addition to the organisation.


For media enquiries contact:
Shelley Armstrong
Media & PR Manager
T. +44 (0)191 440 5739
M. +44 (0)7717 631 109

Notes to editors:
• NewcastleGateshead Initiative is a destination management and marketing agency; a public-private partnership supported by Gateshead and Newcastle City Councils, working with around 170 private sector partner organisations across NewcastleGateshead and the wider region
• NewcastleGateshead Initiative is supported by a board offering expertise from a range of sectors and professions. We also work with a wide range of partners, stakeholders and businesses, who share our ambition to inspire people to visit and to live, learn, work and invest in NewcastleGateshead.
o Our marketing & communications team works to promote and position NewcastleGateshead as a vibrant tourism destination, through targeted campaigns nationally and internationally. Our visitor information team helps ensure visitors have the best possible experience when they’re here, providing information and support.
o Our cultural programming team work with partners across the destination to bring together NewcastleGateshead’s cultural offer and deliver some of our most popular festival & events, including EAT! NewcastleGateshead, Juice Festival and the NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival.
o Our Convention Bureau uses local knowledge and expertise to help organise conferences, meetings or events in NewcastleGateshead and the surrounding area. It provides a free service including, venue sourcing and accommodation booking, to arranging transport and entertainment for delegates
o Our inward investment team helps businesses locate, expand and flourish in NewcastleGateshead, providing a range of services to make it easy to realise their ambitions for growth
• 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.

Imagery / Photography opportunities:
• - NewcastleGateshead’s Initiative’s extensive royalty free image library

Useful links:
• - NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s media website
• - destination website for NewcastleGateshead

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