Northumberland is to target Scandinavian visitors in a new tourism pitch.
County council bosses are hoping next year they can tap into the estimated £600m travel spending power of countries from Norway to Latvia.
Council leader Grant Davey says he wants to encourage a key part of any growth in tourism to come from the Scandinavian and Baltic states and their combined populations of over 30m people.
As part of the council’s rebranding efforts more will be done to support the industry, and funding will be found to help sell Northumberland to tourists arriving in the North East through ferry services into North Shields.
The so called ‘Viking Raiders’ will be targeted as part of a wider tourism pitch which sees council publications, website, banners and campaigns all tweaked to ensure they are promoting Northumberland to foreign visitors.
Mr Davey said: “We’re keen to make sure that we can make Northumberland as attractive as possible for visitors and residents alike and we want to encourage visitors from our traditional neighbours in Scandinavia who visit Tyneside in increasing numbers to look further North into our beautiful county.
“We’ve got very strong cultural links with Scandinavia and the Baltic states and we’re going to work flat out to make sure these visitors get a chance to sample the delights of Northumberland.”
Tourism is worth some £700m a year to the county, with at least 2,000 jobs directly linked to the industry. The council has set an ambitious target of increasing trade by at least 15% in the next five years, with plans underway to work with potential partners in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland and in the Scottish Borders to develop links to promote visitor opportunities in Northumberland.
Council officials will be working directly with local towns and visitor attractions such as Hadrian’s wall, Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick Gardens, aiming to develop and market a Northumberland-specific tourism strategy in time for next year’s holiday makers.
Support for Northumberland’s tourism industry has been hit in recent years by spending cuts both at a local and national level.
The Government’s austerity programme saw ministers in 2010 axe the successful Passionate People, Passionate Places advertising campaign which sold the North East region as a combined tourist offering, ensuring people considering, for example, a trip to Newcastle saw the highlights of Northumberland as well.
With the region no longer able to spend millions of pounds on North East-wide tourism promotion many in the county have expressed concerns that they lose out.