Positive tourism figures for Northumberland welcomed by council

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Visitors to Northumberland felt welcome in the county with many vowing to return in the future, according to a new survey.

Members of Northumberland County Council’s Community and Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee were told that the county was now a “leading UK destination” following “unrivalled growth in visitor numbers” over the past decade.

However, council officers also said there was a need to balance the benefits of tourism with the needs of both the county and its residents.

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Speaking at the meeting, the council’s head of tourism Maureen McAllister said: “I’m absolutely passionate about Northumberland. I’m focusing on working with industry and what they need moving forward.

Sycamore Gap is an example of the Northumberland attractions in the countryside.Sycamore Gap is an example of the Northumberland attractions in the countryside.
Sycamore Gap is an example of the Northumberland attractions in the countryside.

“We’re not talking about massive numbers of visitors, but we want quality visitors who will stay longer and spend more money. People are coming back and talking about holidays in Northumberland.

“People are returning and recommending Northumberland – 100 per cent of people we surveyed said they felt welcome, 98 per cent said they would visit again and 99 per cent would recommend coming here.”

A face-to-face survey carried out in summer 2021 delivered over 400 responses on the matter.

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It was also acknowledged that the bulk of tourists visit the Northumberland coast – however, the council said it would be attempting to promote all the “interior” the county has to offer.

Responding to a question from Coun Anne Dale, who represents Stocksfield, on visitor numbers to Hadrian’s Wall, council officer Nigel Walsh said: “There has been a sustained effort, not to deter people away from the coast but to show the quality of the offer and attractions in the interior of the county.”

Mrs McAllister added: “We don’t want any fake images. If you see it, you can do it.

“We’re not putting anything out there that is just for the camera. We’re looking to develop the product and where there are opportunities to develop new products, away from the areas that already have enough visitors at the moment.”

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However, the results still remained below that of the records achieved in 2019 and the value of the visitor economy in 2021 was 21 per cent lower than in 2019.