The Labour administration at County Hall wants to boost tourism in Northumberland by sparking a second Viking invasion.
Labour group and Northumberland County Council leader Grant Davey has ‘fired the starting gun’ on a race to make Northumberland the most visited county in the country.
And he has revealed that a key part of any growth would come from the Scandinavian and Baltic states and their combined populations of more than 30million.
The impact of the tourist trade on the Northumberland economy already totals more than £700million a year, but Coun Davey hopes to develop opportunities to increase the trade by at least 15 per cent in the next five years.
Plans are already under way to rebrand the county and the authority is keen to work with potential partners in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland and in the Scottish Borders to develop links to promote visitor opportunities in Northumberland.
The council will be working directly with local towns and visitor attractions like Hadrian’s Wall, Bamburgh Castle and The Alnwick Garden and aims to develop and market a county-specific tourism strategy in time for next year’s holidaymakers.
A specific element will target the so-called Viking raiders – tourists who currently visit the North East through DFDS ferry links to Newcastle from the Scandinavian and Baltic states.
Coun Davey said: “We’re keen to make sure that we can make Northumberland as attractive as possible for visitors and residents alike and we want to encourage visitors from our traditional neighbours in Scandinavia, who visit Tyneside in increasing numbers, to look further north into our beautiful county.
“We’ve got very strong cultural links with Scandinavia and the Baltic states and we’re going to work flat out to make sure these visitors get a chance to sample the delights of Northumberland.”
In March, the Gazette reported that the county was targetting six per cent growth to the visitor economy to bring in an extra £42million nd create 795 full-time jobs by 2016.