The North East will get the chance to sell itself to the global travel industry next week when a major conference is held in Newcastle.
VisitBritain, the official tourism website for the UK, is holding its ExploreGB conference at the Metro Radio Arena on Thursday and Friday, with more than 280 international travel buyers from 29 countries attending the event.
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The conference – which comes after the Rough Guides named Newcastle its number one place in the world to visit, and shortly before the Great Exhibition of the North – is being seen as another opportunity to market the North East to national and international visitors.
Travel industry buyers and journalists from the UK’s largest and most valuable inbound visitor markets – including Australia, France, Germany and the US – will attend, as well as from high-spending markets including China and the Gulf countries.
Sarah Stewart, chief executive of the NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “In the year that Rough Guides named Newcastle as its number one place in the world to visit, it is great to be working with VisitBritain to bring its flagship event to NewcastleGateshead.
“Delegates will have the chance to explore the huge variety of experiences our city and the wider region has to offer visitors and discover how these will be amplified during Great Exhibition of the North, and we wish them an enjoyable stay.”
VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “We are delighted to bring our flagship trade event ExploreGB to NewcastleGateshead and North East England, a fantastic destination and also a great base for our international buyers to start their tours across the UK.
“Tourism is one of the world’s most globally competitive industries and ExploreGB is an extremely important business tool to help us stay competitive. It gives UK travel suppliers and local destinations the chance to get their products in front of hundreds of top global buyers, forge valuable business connections and ultimately inspire more visitors to book a trip.”
More than 32,000 meetings will take place at the event, while tourism buyers and international journalists will get to experience holiday experiences around the North East and further afield.
VisitBritain will also be showcasing its new global marketing campaign to boost inbound tourism.
The digital campaign uses short films and images to promote unexpected experiences and less-explored destinations across Britain, alongside better-known landmarks and attractions.
Tourism Minister Michael Ellis said: “British tourism is thriving and is an increasingly important economic driver across the UK. The sector contributes billions of pounds to the economy every year, supports thousands of jobs and benefits the UK’s nations and regions.
“We want to build on this success and ExploreGB gives British businesses the opportunity to expand, increase inward investment and reach new international markets.”