You did it! North East voters win the region a £1m Visit Britain ad campaign at Heathrow Airport

Praise for the North East after we rallied together to take the lead from Northern Ireland with moments to spare in tourism competition

©VisitBritain/ Joe Cornish Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall

Tourism and business chiefs have praised the region for its efforts to win a £1m airport ad campaign.

The North East will be advertised to the world after a last minute rush saw it pip Northern Ireland to the Heathrow Airport advertising.

“The whole region really rallied behind the competition and there was a tremendous last push to secure a win for the North East,” said Sarah Stewart, chief executive of the NewcastleGateshead Initiative, which markets Newcastle and Gateshead nationally and internationally.

“It was evident from all of the social media activity that there is a great sense of pride in the region and it was this passion that really made the difference in the eleventh hour.

“We literally pipped Northern Ireland to the post with just a few hundred extra votes.

“£1m worth of free advertising at one of the world’s busiest airports will provide a significant boost, profiling the region to potential visitors and investors from around the globe.

“Thank you to everyone who supported the campaign and voted in the competition – every last vote really did count.”

Heathrow Airport has more than 73m passengers a year and is the world’s third busiest airport. It is also a key hub for holidaymakers and business travellers looking to journey to the North East.

But it was only in the closing minutes that the North East pulled ahead in the battle to get more Facebook “likes” on its photo of Hadrian’s Wall.

John Holland Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO, said: “I’m delighted the winner of the Your Great Britain competition with Heathrow and VisitBritain is the North East.

“It is a beautiful region and it has really got behind the competition over the last two weeks, resulting in over 19,000 votes for the breathtaking image of Hadrian’s Wall.

“With seven flights a day from Heathrow to Newcastle we hope the winning images will inspire passengers to explore the beautiful North East during their visit to the UK.”

Despite running for more than two weeks voting accelerated hugely in the final 24 hours, with both the North East and Northern Ireland picking up more than half of their votes in a race to the line.

North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive, James Ramsbotham, said the win showed what can be achieved when the whole of the region pulls together.

“The fact that we gained 10,000 votes on the final day, bridging a significant gap to win in the final minute of the competition was hugely dramatic and is another example of how the North East mobilises for the greater good and how proud we are of our magnificent region,” he said.

“The efforts of people and businesses across social media over the last two weeks have been absolutely amazing.

“Securing £1m of free marketing at one of the world’s largest airports can provide a significant boost to the North East visitor economy and provide us with the opportunity to showcase the North East and all its many attractions to people from across the globe.”

Newcastle International Airport chief executive Dave Laws was similarly delighted.

“The way in which the region once again came together to achieve an objective proves what we are capable of if we have a common goal,” he said.

“Our whole is much greater than the sum of our parts. Numerous organisations and individuals played their part.

“Can I thank everyone that supported the campaign.

“Such a close result, with an epic race to the finish line, really shows that every single vote counted.

“I also want to thank Heathrow Airport and VisitBritain for providing us with this opportunity. Heathrow Airport is a critically important hub for the region, with BA carrying close to half a million passengers a year, making it our biggest single airline service.”

Around 13m passengers a year already use Heathrow as their gateway to Britain’s regions and VisitBritain’s marketing director Joss Croft said he now looked forward to encouraging more of them to head to the North East.

“Every vote really did count in this competition as the decision went right to the wire with over 40,000 votes registered in just a few weeks,” he said.

“I was delighted to see such collective campaigning across the winning region with tweets from Newcastle United FC, Sunderland AFC, local airports and the North East’s tourism industry all urging locals to get behind their area.

“It clearly worked, and now the beauty of the North East will be seen by millions of overseas visitors each day as part of VisitBritain’s GREAT campaign.”


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