Tourism boom set to continue for Northumberland

Northumberland has had more exposure on national TV in the past week, ahead of the main tourist season starting next month at Easter.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 23rd March 2017, 8:31 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:38 am
A scene from Sunday's episode of Vera which was partly filmed in Craster.
A scene from Sunday's episode of Vera which was partly filmed in Craster.

Last Wednesday, the Alnwick Garden’s Treehouse Restaurant featured on Hidden Restaurants with Michel Roux Jr on Channel 4, sparking a ‘phenomenal’ response, while the return of ITV’s detective drama, Vera, on Sunday, showcased several locations.

Filming for the seventh series of the drama, which is set in the North East, saw shoots at Rumbling Kern, near Howick, Craster and the Farne Islands last June.The crew also filmed at the forge of Red Row blacksmith Stephen Lunn, whose daughter Ashlee starred as a double, as well as creating a seven-foot roseate tern sculpture for the show.Jude Leitch, director of Northumberland Tourism, said: “Vera is always good for Northumberland as Ann Cleeves has a loyal following and people who know the county enjoy spotting the places that have been featured in each episode.“We’ve been looking forward to this series and I was very happy to see that the sun was shining over Craster and the Farne Islands.“Hopefully the series will generate as much interest among prospective visitors as the last few did.”And the Treehouse Restaurant’s appearance on the new series by TV presenter and Michelin-starred French chef Michel Roux Jr certainly attracted attention.Mark Brassell, CEO of The Alnwick Garden, said: “It actually crashed our internet server for a few minutes just after it aired, but we managed to sort it out quickly. Since then, there has been a constant stream of inquiries.“We have capped numbers for lunch and evening sittings to make sure that we don’t impact on the visitor experience, but there is still availability on some weekdays.“We have a brand new team at the Treehouse delivering a fantastic dining experience and the TV coverage has been a massive boost to their morale.”It followed last week’s news that the Northumberland coast had bagged two awards in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2017.

The county’s coastline was voted the Holiday Destination of the Year, while one of its beaches, Embleton Bay, won Beach of the Year after a public poll.

Jude said: “We did see a lot of interest in the Countryfile Awards, mostly online so far.

“Past experience shows that we can expect much more when the next magazine, which features the winners, is released. Apparently the editor of the magazine and website has also been inspired by our success in the awards to include a feature on Northumberland in July.

“Again this will prove a boost to visitor numbers as Countryfile has a very wide audience and is trusted by a lot of people to inspire their countryside visits.”

Jeff Sutheran, chairman of the North Northumberland Tourism Association, said: “There’s no doubt that the exposure the county has had through the likes of Vera and the Countryfile Awards is raising the profile of the county and bringing it to the attention of people who have never been aware of it.”

Jeff, who also owns St Cuthbert’s B&B in Seahouses, added: “We rely on returning visitors, but we do get a lot of people who are coming to Northumberland for the first time whose interest has been piqued by these things.”