North East selected to lead £2.25m tourism boost initiative

itv pics
If the project is successful, the North East will become the blueprint for tourism in other regions across England. Credit: ITV News

The North East has been selected to lead a major tourism project aimed at attracting more investment to the region, as well as sporting and cultural events.

More than £2 million is being spent by the government to market the region as a "must-visit destination."

The NewcastleGateshead Initiative will work in partnership with Visit Northumberland and County Durham, aimed at expanding the potential of the region's natural assets - including its beaches, national parks and dark skies.

It is also hoped the project will attract new hotels, major attractions and increase the number of UNESCO World Heritage bids.

Places like Amble and Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast could benefit from the project. Credit: Natural England

Another aim of the partnership model - which is an overhaul of the government's usual structure - is to extend the tourism season and attract more people from the UK and abroad.

Events such as the Tour de Yorkshire and Birmingham's Commonwealth Games will inspire new projects with a view to attracting more visitors.

NewcastleGateshead chief executive Sarah Green said: "This pilot is an incredible opportunity to unlock our growth potential in the North East, attracting more visitors, reaching new international markets, creating jobs, growing businesses, attracting investment, and reinforcing local pride in our place. 

"Our region will act as a blueprint for the rest of England, and we could not be prouder to help shape the future landscape of destination management organisations, working in partnership to deliver local economic growth through the visitor economy. 

"From Auckland Castle to Alnwick Gardens, from dark skies to sparkly venues, from fish and chips to fine dining – the aim of this partnership is to provide an inclusive welcome for all, attracting more international and domestic visitors with a fantastic regional offer and visitor experience."

The North East's dark skies will be marketed as a must-see for tourists. Credit: Kielder Observatory

The pilot project comes after a review of the country's tourism boards found they were fragmented and the system overcrowded - making it more difficult for businesses looking to invest.

Tourism Minister Stuart Andrew said: "We are looking at what more we can do to streamline the way the region’s tourism bodies work together, improve the region’s offer and the way it markets itself. 

"With £2.25 million in funding, we hope the North East can be a pioneer for other areas in unlocking its potential and putting its best foot forward."

The beauty spot of Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland will be showcased to tourists as part of the initiative. Credit: PA

If the pilot is successful, the government will look to roll the partnership model out to other regions across England. 

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...