The North East is ready to kickstart tourism and welcome back visitors

According to a recent Travel Sentiment survey, almost 70% of people in the North East plan to take trips around the region as soon as lockdown measures are lifted.

The survey, conducted by public and private sector partnership NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), was completed by more than 1000 people over the past month and revealed positive attitudes towards the reopening of tourism and hospitality in the region.

The purpose of the survey was to understand travel sentiment, intentions and consumer confidence levels, and to inform plans for welcoming visitors back to the region.

Testament to the friendly nature of North East residents, more than 70% of respondents also said they felt comfortable welcoming visitors back this summer.

After a tough year for the sector these findings will be welcomed by businesses, some of whom have remained closed for 12 months. It is estimated that by 17 May, when most tourism and leisure businesses are due to reopen, Newcastle and Gateshead will have lost 13,000 jobs and £1.3bn in revenue as a result of coronavirus restrictions and closures.

Today (Thursday 1 April), to ensure businesses feel prepared to reopen safely and are ready to meet demand, businesses and stakeholders were invited to contribute to Newcastle and Gateshead’s Destination Recovery Plan.

Delivered in partnership with NGI, Newcastle City Council, NE1 and NewcastleGateshead Cultural Venues (NGCV), this plan outlines key areas of activity that will be undertaken to reassure the public and support businesses over the next 12 months.

Director of Leisure Tourism and Research, Ian Thomas was joined by Jim Mawdsley, Principal Advisor, Events, Culture Arts and Heritage at Newcastle City Council and Stephen Patterson, Director of Communications at NE1, to discuss the first draft of this shared plan. The 12-month plan looks to foster innovation, restore civic pride and prepare for the future with attendees getting the opportunity to share their thoughts and questions in the one-hour webinar.

Part of the event looked at the ways in which public confidence and demand will be stimulated over the coming year. Attendees heard more about how their businesses will be supported to reopen and the exciting programme of events coming later in the year, that will benefit businesses across the sector.

Ian Thomas, Director of Leisure Tourism and Research at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said:

“After what has been a devastating year for the sector it is fantastic to see the levels of positivity from the survey showing the level of demand that is out there to get back out and about. This is a pivotal point for the sector, and we are delighted to be working with our partners, NE1, Newcastle City Council and NGCV to relaunch our city as a destination, kick-starting the journey of recovery. The input from today’s webinar will be invaluable as we look towards championing our city as a safe place to visit and enjoy.”

Jim Mawdsley, Principal Advisor Events, Culture Arts and Heritage at Newcastle City Council added:

“We are really excited to be a key partner in the destination recovery plan. We have been working hard to ensure that we will see an extremely strong programme of both cultural and sporting events that will not only encourage the region’s population back into the city but will entice tourists both internationally and across the UK to visit Newcastle and Gateshead.”

You can catch-up on the webinar here.