1. ITV Report

Another Newcastle's experience of the Games

The Newcastles of the World conference attracted delegates from 14 countries. Credit: ITV

It's a pretty unique gathering: 75 people from 14 different countries, but all from the same city: Newcastle. Or that might be Shinshiro in Japan, or Neufchateau in France. The Newcastles of the World conference taking place this week on Tyneside is a chance for cities sharing the same name to share ideas.

But in one case, it's a chance to discuss how to make the most of the Olympics.

Newcastle, Australia, was promised thousands of visitors during Sydney 2000. Credit: Newcastle City Council (Australia)

Twelve years ago, Newcastle in Australia found itself two hours down the road from the Sydney Games. Its firms won contracts, it hosted some events, and was promised a huge influx of tourists - just like Newcastle Upon Tyne in 2012.

"I think Newcastle people felt very much a part of the Olympic Games, and certainly we saw lots of people coming to Newcastle, both for events and just to visit during the Games. So it was very positive. But since then I'm not sure how much the flow-on from that has been. But certainly a lot more people visit Australia now, and our challenge is to get more of those people to visit our Newcastle."

– Bob Cook, Newcastle City Council (Australia)
Like our Newcastle, Australia's was built on heavy industry, but is now trying to attract tourists. Credit: Newcastle City Council (Australia)

The two Newcastles share a similar history. Both are built on coal, both made their living from shipping it out by sea. Both have also struggled with the loss of heavy industry in recent years. Officials from the Australian Newcastle say they felt a lift during the Olympics in 2000, but Sydney still dominates tourism in the area.

They say if the North East of England wants to feel a lasting benefit from the Games, it needs to be proactive. Hundreds of thousands of people will come to London in the years following the Olympics, but they won't automatically head north.

The tourism body, Visit Britain, is trying to help by putting the regions at the heart of its marketing campaign this year. Its hope is that the publicity and the buzz created by the Games will encourage people to visit every part of the UK.

Like Newcastle, Australia, it may be some time before we know if it's worked.

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