In my view

There is something positive about arriving back in the North-East. I have heard many people talk about the warm glow as they see Durham Cathedral or cross the River Tyne on the train back from London.

There is something positive about arriving back in the North-East. I have heard many people talk about the warm glow as they see Durham Cathedral or cross the River Tyne on the train back from London.

For others, the first sighting of Penshaw Monument or the Angel of the North produces a real sense of homecoming.

I recently went cycling to Holland via the DFDS ferry out of North Shields. Holland has much to teach us about cycling and sustainable travel, but the North-East has much to show the Continent about how to welcome people.

The ferry's return into the North-East is nothing short of spectacular. To approach the Tyne via the stunning cliffs of Marsden was something I had expected. However, the image of the welcoming arms of the Tyne, overlooked by the elegant Tynemouth Priory and the Juan Munoz sculpture in South Shields produced an overwhelming sense of local pride as I arrived home on a sun-drenched Monday morning.

The sheer engineering prowess of the snaking breakwater in South Shields must impress many international visitors, reaching out as it does to greet people and welcome them into the safety of the river.

When the QE2 sails into the Tyne for its 40th anniversary cruise this autumn, we have the opportunity to show why it should have been coming here for the previous 39 years.

Cycling into NewcastleGateshead, I was confronted by the arching welcome of the six bridges that we now take for granted as an everyday sight.

We should not underestimate the impact such an arrival has on visitors as they see a world class display of architecture and engineering. I spoke to two Dutch pensioners who were cycling to Carlisle, but stopping to see the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

Sometimes we need to stand in different places to realise the greatness of our city, home town or village. Try it. Take time to look at the view from the Gateshead side of the river of the historic heart of Newcastle with the castle and cathedral.

See how far away you can spot Penshaw Monument, the Angel of the North or Bamburgh Castle. Look above the shop facades in your local high street. Cross the road and look differently at your street. Many of our buildings, sculptures and monuments have been designed to stand proud and welcome visitors.

I wrote 12 months ago about how the passion for football in the North-East has helped us to think positively as a region. Regardless of who we support, we can learn something from the optimism which a new season brings.

Whether it is a new league, a new manager or just a new kit we are given another new start and a chance of glory.

I have always thought that the Stadium of Light was a great name for a football ground. It sums up the local pride, the quality of the sky in the North-East and the rays of hope for greater things to come.

There is no doubt that the positive thinking of Quinn and Keane have had a dramatic effect on the Sunderland team this season, but it would be interesting to measure their impact on the population and the economy of the City as a whole.

Sunderland is featuring in Observer newspaper travel columns, has fuelled stories of house price booms and may soon be flavour of the month with Irish property investors. The benefits of promotion to the premiership are easily measured for the club, but the real winners will be the city and the region.

We are certainly seeing the spin-offs in new tourism business across Tyne and Wear, and that has to be good for the North-East as a whole.

* Andrew Dixon is chief executive of the NewcastleGateshead Initiative.

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