THE 8.6 million overnight visitors who stayed in the North-East last year poured £940m into the region’s economy, new figures show.
According to the latest figures from One NorthEast, Tyne and Wear attracted almost half of all visitor expenditure to the North-East with Newcastle the major draw, larger hotels being concentrated in the area and shopping magnets like the MetroCentre also pulling in visitors.
It also attracts five times the number of day visitors than Northumberland, where accommodation is dominated by self-catering properties and campsites.
When spending by day visitors and indirect tourism revenue is taken into account, the industry contributed £3.5bn to the North-East economy last year, directly supporting 55,000 jobs.
Almost half of the overnight visitors stayed with friends or family, while a quarter opted for hotels, guest houses and B&B, with the remainder choosing caravan, camping or self-catering.
The figures for 2006 show a slight decline compared with the previous year.
But a One NorthEast spokesman said: “The Passionate people Passionate places campaign has been instrumental in raising the profile of the North-East and there is a long term trend of growth in the region’s visitor economy.”
Visitor revenue had grown by over £200m since 2003, with over 10% growth in overnight visits.
“2005 was an exceptional year with both the Tall Ships’ race and the Seve Trophy attracting large number of visitors, with the long term trend between 2003 and 2006 being one of significant overall growth,” said the spokesman.
Last year, tourism spending in the Tees Valley increased by 15%.
The top paid-for attractions were The Alnwick Garden and Beamish Museum, while in October last year the £16m Woodhorn museum and archives complex opened near Ashington, attracting 28,000 visitors up to the year’s end. Surveys showed that visitors were attracted by the region’s countryside, history and heritage, coastline and its people.
Visitors in commercial accommodation spent an average of £160 per person per trip, and those staying with friends and relatives averaged £67.
Cruise ship calls to the Tyne are seen as a growth area, with 21 vessels booked for this year and 26 expected next year.
The QE2 will make her first overnight stop on the Tyne later this month.
Seminars will highlight attractions
THE Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Northumberland National Park are to host six seminar tours in North Northumberland.
The seminars take place from October to next March for anyone associated with the tourism industry in the area.
Tom Cadwallender, natural and cultural heritage officer for the Northumberland Coast AONB, said: “The aim is to provide tourism professionals and providers with the opportunity to learn more about the special properties, attractions and outdoor recreation opportunities of the landscapes north of the River Coquet, out to the coast, leading to the Scottish border.
“In turn, they can pass this learning on to visitors and be ambassadors for the landscape and its special features.”
The programme will cover geology, walking opportunities, bird watching, food and drink, castles, bastles and Reiving and the latest moves in conservation.
Details are available from Lesley Silvera on (01434) 607988.
Mowbray to inspire Ukrainian revamp
THE green heart of a North-East city could turn out to be the inspiration for the restoration of a park originally designed for the Russian Czars. The 19th Century Mowbray Park in Sunderland was itself restored in a £3.2m venture seven years ago, and now the lessons learned during its restoration could provide the basis for the revamp of a park in the Ukraine.
Kremenchug Park was designed for the Russian Czars who annually stopped off in the city on their summer journey from St Petersburg to the Crimea. Its designer, William Gould, was the pupil of Northumberland-born landscape gardener Capability Brown.
But the park is now in need of regeneration and a party of eight civic leaders from the Ukraine are visiting the North-East on September 10 and 11 to see what lessons can be learned from Sunderland’s success in transforming Mowbray.
The visit has been jointly organised by CEED, the Sunderland environmental charity and the city council.
Sunderland City Council director of development and regeneration, Phil Barrett, said: “This approach from the city of Kremenchug provided an opportunity to showcase Sunderland’s nationally recognised success in restoring Mowbray Park on a wider stage, as well as to share experience in tackling issues such as environmental quality and sustainability that affect us all.”
Mike Wilson, chairman of CEED, said: “We have worked with organisations from central Europe for nearly 20 years, passing on expertise on environmental regeneration after the decline of heavy industry. It is a double pleasure to be able to both welcome a partner from a new area and to be able to help regenerate a link between the countries, first created nearly 200 years ago.”
The Ukrainian party will be led by their mayor, Mykola Glukhov, and will also include representatives with responsibility for Kremenchug’s water systems, sanitation, environment and planning portfolios.
The group will also meet city council officers.