On Tuesday 30th January, Visit Northumberland, the official Local Visitor Economy Partnership for the county, held its annual tourism conference at Macdonald Linden Hall Golf and Country Club. The event welcomed over 150 attendees from across the tourism, hospitality and experience sectors to hear from speakers covering national, regional and local topics.
Celebrity speaker and Hairy Biker Si King joined Visit Northumberland’s conference for the second time to give businesses a first glance at the Northumberland Canny Visitor Pledge. This upcoming marketing campaign will officially launch in March and has been developed to encourage Northumberland’s visitors to travel responsibly. The pledge will feature important messages about protecting Northumberland’s wildlife and landscapes using some local, Northumbrian language and colloquialisms.
Following Si’s introduction, delegates heard from Lyndsey Turner-Swift, Visit England Deputy Director, and Ian Thomas, Destination Director at NGI, who discussed key priorities and focus for 2024 at a national and regional level, opportunities for businesses and the Destination Development Partnership achievements and future plans.
Northumberland representatives Maria Antoniou, Senior Economic Development Manager at Northumberland County Council, and Maureen McAllister, Director of Visitor Economy at Visit Northumberland, also shared insight into the new regional landscape, Visit Northumberland’s achievements and updates on the Northumberland Destination Management Plan.
Delegates then heard from keynote speakers Jane Cooper, Managing Director at Access & Inclusion UK; Rachel McCaffrey, Sustainability Lead at Visit England; and Jo Macleod, Marketing and Communications Manager at North East Screen, who each presented on their specialist area before being joined by expert accompanying panel members to lead a Q&A session.
Andrew Fox, chair of Visit Northumberland, said, “It was fantastic to see so many tourism businesses in the room and the sense of passion, partnership and expertise on the day was undeniable. Tourism is a significant contributor to the Northumberland economy with 9.97million visitors spending a record £1.169 billion and supporting 14, 683 jobs across the county in 2023 and the conference delivered important messages around being ‘canny’ to all visitors, understanding various accessibility needs, encouraging sustainable travel and making an all-round positive contribution to this thriving industry.”
Gemma Gee, owner of The Cramlington Forager and partner of Visit Northumberland, said, "It was wonderful to be able to connect with others who live and work in Northumberland, who are proud to call it home and who are eager to see our beautiful county recognised for all it stands for: its outstanding landscape and wildlife, its communities and heartfelt people, its culture and its history. It was definitely a very warming welcome to our Visit Northumberland partnership.”
The conference is provided as a benefit of partnership with Visit Northumberland, with refreshed partnership packages planned for 2024. For more information please contact