THE Olympics brought the North East a multi-million- pound tourism and business boost, a new report has revealed.
Figures from the NewcastleGateshead Initiative reveal that the London 2012 events boosted the region’s tourism economy by more than £7m, while firms with contracts related to the games won £150m worth of trade.
During the London 2012 Olympic Games, Newcastle was one of six Olympic Football venues, with matches being held at St James’ Park.
Approximately 127,000 people attended Olympic football in the city, contributing over £7m to the region’s economy.
Sarah Stewart, chief executive of the destination management and marketing agency, said the Olympics had been a great success in putting Newcastle on the world stage.
“It was a fantastic opportunity for us to be able to showcase what Newcastle and Gateshead have to offer,” she said.
“We could ride on the back of that to reach a much wider audience than we are able to.”
Now staff at the agency, which helps bring over 17.6m visitors into the area each year, are hoping to build on the Olympic legacy to make 2013 even more successful for the city.
“The experience we had with the Olympics and hosting an event of that kind stands us in really good stead,” said Mrs Stewart.
“Newcastle is bidding to be a host city for the Rubgy World Cup in 2015 and we will hear the announcement some time in the spring. I would hope the experience we have had from the Olympics would put us in good stead.”
She added: “We were really pleased with the amount of people who came to the Olympic football matches because that probably would bring in people to the city who would not otherwise have done so.”
A further breakdown of figures for the region after the Olympics showed that athletes and officials at pre-training camps and Olympic football matches accounted for 3,178 “bed-nights” and an estimated expenditure of £238,000 across the North East.
The Olympic Torch relay’s evening celebrations by NewcastleGateshead also gave the local economy a real boost as 35,000 people flocked to the event, generating in excess of £1m for local shops, bars and restaurants.
And it wasn’t just hotels and eateries which benefited from the Olympic legacy, as Newcastle’s shopping area saw footfall rise by 20% during the London 2012 Games period.
Then, on August 4, with the men’s quarter final match and also the Bridges Festival in Newcastle, hotel room occupancy in Newcastle and Gateshead grew to 96%.
Also hailed as a success as part of NewcastleGateshead’s cultural events was the annual EAT! food festival, which sold more than 5,000 tickets for events. Footfall for the weekend was estimated at over 103,000 – an increase of 19.6% on the previous year.
And this festive period, more than 15,000 people visited Enchanted Parks, part of NewcastleGateshead’s Winter Festival, which ended with over 50,000 people in the city enjoying the New Year’s Eve Carnival and fireworks.
Catherine Walker, NGI’s inward investment director, said her team was working on highlighting the opportunities in Newcastle and Gateshead for offshore and marine industries. They have also appointed representatives in two priority markets, the USA and India, to promote Tyneside to companies there.
She said: “The sheer scale of the platform of the Olympics and us hosting the football really helped put Newcastle and Gateshead on the map and will have had an impact on the UK as a place to invest.”