Research Developing the Visitor Economy

Our submission (click to read):

Additional information to support our submission for those keen to read more:

Team bios

David Bowe – Research Manager
A member of the Market Research Society, David is responsible for managing and analysing all our research and data at NGI. Through this work, David has demonstrated his ability to run, manage, and analyse large-scale insights projects, including face-to-face surveys, telephone surveys, depth interviews, online surveys, focus groups, desk research, and polls.
Since joining NGI, David has led on many consultancy research projects supporting businesses and destinations such as Wild in Art, Coventry BID, Visit Leeds, Gateshead Council, North Yorkshire Council, Northumberland County Council, Skipton BID, Leeds BID and Sunderland City Council with perceptions research, audience profiling, event impact modelling, and feasibility studies.
David would be your project manager and key contact at NGI.

Ian Thomas – Director of Visitor Economy
Ian has worked in the tourism industry since 2001, starting at Northumbria Tourist Board as research assistant. Since then, he has held a range of roles at One North East and NewcastleGateshead Initiative. Tourism is his passion having earned a BA (Hons) in Tourism Operations and Marketing, and a Diploma in Destination Management.  Ian is both Market Research Society accredited and a PRINCE2 Project Manager. 
Over the 20 years Ian has worked in tourism, he has supported destinations across the country to develop destination management plans, strategize, implement change, and conduct large-scale research projects. This has included consultancy work for Coventry, Leeds, Lincoln, Nottingham, Durham, Northumberland, Bradford, and Brighton amongst many others.
For the last decade Ian has been the regional research lead for tourism in the North East, and he sits on the VisitEngland Research Group. He also sits on the board of Beamish Museum. 

Shelley Johnson – Head of Market Insights
Shelley is a Chartered Marketer and member of The Market Research Society (MRS). Shelley joined NGI from Tyneside Cinema in 2007 after finishing her MA at Northumbria University. In her time with the company, she has led numerous marketing projects and campaigns for cultural festivals and events, short breaks, and business tourism, and delivered work for clients including Gateshead Council, North of Tyne Combined Authority and Hadrian’s Wall Partnership.
In recent years, as NGI’s remit has grown, Shelley has worked alongside our destination director advising on tourism product development projects and supporting the development of the destination management plan for NewcastleGateshead. As head of market insights, Shelley specialises in using data and insights to inform strategic planning and in communicating and presenting data to allow stakeholders and clients to do the same.

Jade Galloway – Research Executive
Jade is NGI’s newest recruit. A graduate of Newcastle University, Jade is a skilled researcher having achieved a 2:1 in Environmental Science BSc. During her time at university Jade completed an internship at Think Pacific, using evidence and data to shape environmental policy proposals.
Since joining NGI in the summer, Jade has led on the data analysis and reporting of several event evaluations. This involves survey scripting, data analysis on both quant and qual data, and reporting. Jade also manages NGI’s tourism statistics platform T-Stats, ensuring timely and accurate data reporting for senior leaders. Jade leads on much of NGI’s desk research for internal needs and for a wide range of clients.

Relevant experience

In the NGI team, we have used our experience as tourism and destination practitioners to support a number of destinations and attractions with their ambitions to better inform their marketing and development plans.

While we have outlined five examples below, we have also done similar work in Sunderland, Durham, Tees Valley, Bradford and Lincoln, and annually we deliver STEAM reporting for the North East England local authorities.

Audience research for Northumberland Museums Group
In 2021/22 a collective of eight cultural organisations based in Northumberland commissioned NGI to deliver research examining their audiences and potential future audiences. In addition to this, the group also wanted to identify and understand more about those in the county they are currently not reaching. NGI designed a research programme which included desk research, face-to-face surveys, online survey, online survey specifically for under-21s and focus groups. This mixed methodology provided real depth of insight into visitors and barriers to visiting for the group.

Visit Northumberland visitor survey
In 2021 Visit Northumberland commissioned NGI to carry out research work to increase their understanding of visitors to the area and motivations for and barriers to visiting. This included over 400 face-to-face surveys within Northumberland as well as over 3,000 online survey completions. Results were analysed and presented to Visit Northumberland who use the work to inform their own strategies and activities and to support tourism businesses in the county with their business planning.

Visit Leeds visitor research
Following successful delivery of extensive visitor research in 2017, NGI were commissioned by Visit Leeds in 2022/23 to refresh and build on this work. We undertook 1,200 leisure visitor surveys across Leeds, alongside an online survey to consumers, to gather data on perceptions and barriers to visiting. In addition to this, Leeds also commissioned NGI to conduct international visitor research via an online survey to international markets of their choice. Presentations of the findings were made to a range of internal and external stakeholders and recommendations from the study are now informing Visit Leeds’ product development and marketing strategies.

Berwick Barracks research project for English Heritage
We are currently delivering research work for English Heritage providing insights into potential visitors to the redeveloped Berwick Barracks site and testing concepts for interpretation. Almost 6,000 people have provided feedback to the project so far. This includes around 40 in small focus groups, to provide in-depth insight into perceptions and motivations of groups of particular interest, such as people with children and people who have never visited.

Gateshead Riverside Park leisure development consultation
The Gateshead Riverside Park project aims to regenerate the area from the Swing Bridge to the Duston Staiths in Gateshead turning it into a world-class leisure and waterfront / park destination. NGI was commissioned by Gateshead Council to deliver research to understand the potential leisure opportunities at Gateshead Riverside Park. To achieve this NGI consulted with almost people via: an online survey to residents and visitors to Gateshead Riverside Park; 400 face-to-face surveys with residents and visitors to the Quayside; focus groups with residents and visitors to the park (both adults and young people via the Gateshead Youth Assembly) and a drop-in consultation. Our research provided Gateshead Council and Colour Architects with insight on current awareness levels, perceptions, and usage of Gateshead Riverside Park, satisfaction with the park, including their thoughts on the art sculptures, signage, and existing infrastructure and facilities; and recommendations for improvements and where they should be made.