Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Euro Millions Jackpot; Tourists Give the North a Huge Boost

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Euro Millions Jackpot; Tourists Give the North a Huge Boost

Article excerpt

Byline: Amy Hunt

EUROPEAN tourists have handed Tyneside an unexpected financial boost. Since October thousands of Dutch visitors have flocked to Newcastle and Gateshead to splash their cash in stores, bars and restaurants.

Recession-hit retailers have seen a pre-Christmas boost thanks to the strength of the euro against the pound.

And a campaign promoting Tyneside as a top destination to Dutch families is also being credited with the rise in visitors from Holland.

Since October 13,000 people have taken mini cruises from Holland and 3,300 nights have been booked in Tyne and Wear hotels.

More surprisingly, with Newcastle United now playing in the Championship, 479 football packages have been taken with the club by visitors.

In October hotels in the heart of Newcastle and Gateshead recorded the highest occupancy rates ever seen, despite the recession, with 80% of beds booked up as an average across the month.

The amount of cash taken in the city was also up in October compared to the year before.

The Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, set up to promote tourism in Tyneside, received extra funding from Newcastle and Gateshead councils to run a targeted PR campaign in Holland, in partnership with DFDS ferries.

Chief executive Andrew Dixon said: "Overall there has been a 20% increase in visitors from Holland travelling on DFDS to the region.

"It has become a really significant market for us in terms of tourism.

"It's not just people from Holland, but also from Germany, although the Dutch market is particularly strong.

"The ferry has always been a really significant provider of visitors to the North East, but what's interesting is more and more are coming for the value for money of the cities.

"With the euro strong people are coming here to spend their money in the likes of John Lewis and Fenwick.

"In general retail and nightlife are strong draws for the area, but also the culture and heritage of Newcastle and Gateshead.

"If you look back at where we were 10 years ago we weren't a top tourist destination and now tourism is worth pounds 1bn to our economy.

"Now this has started it can only grow, because word of mouth is our strongest marketing tool - once people come here they like it. …

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