Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Summer of Success for North Events; Staying Home Is the New Going Abroad

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Summer of Success for North Events; Staying Home Is the New Going Abroad

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Pattinson

THE North East's booming tourism economy has enjoyed a "summer of success" with visitor figures soaring across the region.

As schools start to return from the summer break, early figures show holiday businesses have enjoyed their best summer to date, with families keeping to their word and opting for so-called 'staycations'.

At least 71% of the region's attractions have recorded a rise in visitor numbers compared to the same period last year.

Tourism bosses at development agency One North East said online bookings made through their website visitnortheastengland.

com soared to pounds 2.5m alone.

And the National Trust has reported an 18% increase on last year's visitor figures, amounting to 160,000 people visiting sites across the region.

The news comes just days after the Great North Museum revealed it had smashed visitor number targets, surpassing its annual quota of 300,000, by pulling in 400,000 in just three months.

The venue attracted 170,000 visitors in just its first six weeks of opening. One North East have said the tourism industry, which is already valued at pounds 3.9bn and employs more than 60,000, is expected to make an increasing contribution to the region's wealth.

Tania Robinson, head of marketing at One North East, said: "To have seen an increase in both room occupancy levels and visitor numbers to attractions is certainly great news for the region - standing testament to the quality of the North East of England.

"The growing popularity of the 'staycation' could be viewed as another contributing factor to this success. We hope that this trend will help people discover more of the exciting things to see and do in the North East."

For the second quarter of the year, from April to June overall hotel occupancy for the region stood at 66%, up 5% on the same time period last year.

There was also more encouraging news from County Durham, which was last night celebrating a pounds 300,000 award from the Culture Department and the Wolfson Foundation, to refurbish three galleries at the Bowes Museum.

Rachael Metcalfe, marketing officer, confirmed the museum had seen some of its best performances in five years, including 11,776 visitors in May alone. And bosses at Dalton Park shopping outlet have revealed more than half a million shoppers passed through their doors in June and August, driving sales up 10% on last year.

The National Trust's most improved site has been Cragside with a 25% increase in tourists, the equivalent of 33,000 extra visitors.

While Wallington Hall, near Morpeth, saw 13,000 extra visitors.

Trust communications officer Sadie Parker said: "This rise in visitors is likely to be due to the fact that people are holidaying at home this year but it's a credit to the region that people are choosing the North East as their holiday destination. …

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