Businesses strive to get message out there

Dr Xavier Font
Dr Xavier Font

Northumberland businesses gathered last week to learn from an internationally-renowned expert in tourism marketing.

Last Thursday’s session, held at the new education centre at Hunting Hall Farm near Beal, saw many businesses with a particular interest in developing sustainable tourism practices come together to hear from Dr Xavier Font, director of theInternational Centre for Responsible Tourism.

The event was organised by the North Northumberland Tourism Association (NNTA), with financial support from the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership and the Northumberland National Park.

It followed on from a very successful conference in March this year, when those businesses keen to spearhead the development of sustainable tourism came together to form NEST – Northumberland Encouraging Sustainable Tourism.

Jeff Sutheran, chairman of NNTA and owner with his wife Jill of St Cuthbert’s House in Seahouses, said “We all know that it’s more and more difficult to make a living in the tourism industry in these difficult economic conditions. Yet at the same time we have the most inspiring landscapes and history here in Northumberland, together with the warmest of welcomes and the most amazing local food, drink and activity providers.

“So being more sustainable is about joining those dots in a more strategic way, so that for example guests don’t simply enjoy great food while they’re here, but they take some home too. Xavier Font cut through all the hype, and helped us to see how we can encourage visitors to support our local economy and services by giving them simple and attractive messages. He was challenging and inspirational.”

Iain Robson, from the AONB Partnership, said: “Everybody working for tourism in our area wants to see guests having a memorable experience during their visit and longing to return. That’s what we want to encourage, and that’s why we as a Partnership are right behind NEST.”