Northern Tourism Growth Fund

Northern Tourism Growth Fund Review


Regional Growth Funding of £10m to 'support tourism in the North of England' was announced in late 2014, providing exciting opportunities for international marketing during the 2015/16 financial year. Visit County Durham was engaged in the process of developing a single proposal for this fund - working with destinations across the North and the team at VisitEngland. The target overseas markets were agreed by Northern destinations as the US, China, Australia/New Zealand, Germany and the Netherlands.


The project proposal was approved by DCMS in March 2015, with confirmation that the £10m allocated to the project had to be matched with a further £10m.


Three working groups were established in order to devise activity plans: Leisure and Connectivity; Travel Trade (of which VCD was a member); Business Visits and Events. A fourth group was then established (of which Sarah Johnson was also a member) to look at the overall creative concept for the campaign, content and digital solutions.

The Content, Creative and Digital team confirmed the following campaign themes which played to Northern England strengths and provided differentiation from other UK destinations: Inspiring landscapes; Hands on history; Great ways to see more; Eat where it’s made; Modern North; Live experiences. The North’s iconic product was then mapped against the themes to identify the hero products which would be at the forefront of campaign activity. Hero products had to meet a strict set of criteria, with VisitEngland having final say on which products were included, based on their market insights. Supporting products were also mapped against the themes and became the basis of itineraries and experiences that added breadth and depth to the Northern England offer.



The NTGF working groups, of which VCD was a member, produced eight draft delivery plans; five that were specific to the NTGF markets and three that were sector specific or related to cross cutting activity. In order to implement the delivery plans lead destinations were appointed, with VCD delivering a high profile project to deliver hero imagery for the campaign. VCD was subsequently asked to manage a second stage photography project.


VCD met with the Strategic Marketing Partners group to discuss and agree which target markets to pursue, and which activities to take forward. It was agreed to focus financial resource on the US, China, Germany and the Netherlands. Once the delivery plans were implemented, VCD’s role was three-fold: take up appropriate opportunities for the promotion of the county; encourage Durham businesses to participate in opportunities; ensure the county was featured in all other relevant activities.



A full evaluation of the programme is being undertaken by VisitEngland, and below is a review of the impact the programme activity had on the county’s profile in the target overseas markets.

Northern Tourism Growth Fund Updates

March Update


Latest news:

  • The ambassadors reception at the Grange Hotel St Paul’s was attended by the Tourism Minister, the Rt Hon David Evernett who addressed the audience of trade partners, suppliers and destination representatives. He got the chance to hear about the programme in depth and to talk to many of those involved in delivering the programme overseas.
  • The Vagabrothers dropped in to see the North of England stand at ITB. After their tour of the North which has produced 9 films (one more than planned) they turned up unexpectedly to say hello. The Vagabrothers have 27,500 followers in the US and will be posting their films on Instagram beginning in April. The Vagabrothers visited Durham, and we were also showcased at the ITB trade show in Berlin.
  • Marketing campaigns with partners are taking place in China and the US. Tactical activity will run over the last two weeks of March with Cathay Pacific, Hainan Airways and Thomas Cook. Reports on partner campaigns with P&O Ferries, Expedia and STA that ran in February in the Netherlands, Germany, the US and Australia are expected shortly.
  • An additional media event has been staged in the Netherlands to take advantage of a last minute opportunity.

Current activity:

  • Over 700 agents worldwide have registered with the new Northern England travel agent training programme, Agent North – Licensed to thrill. The programme aims to produce 13,000 agents in North America, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and China that will be licenced to thrill, having completed their course and received their ‘Agent North’ certificate.
  • More itineraries are being added to the Agent North toolkit containing commissionable product. The training programme homepages are currently being promoted through the following URLs:,,
  • A new leisure video has been completed and was showcased at the NTGF reception at the Grange Hotel St Paul’s as part of the event to celebrate the NTGF programme and partnership. The video showcases the whole of the North and its assets and is set to a Cortinas soundtrack. The video will be shown on Thomas Cook flights between the US and Manchester over the summer.

February Update


Latest news

Agent North, a new travel trade toolkit and training programme dedicated to the North of England, will be launched in Australia next week. It will be showcased for the first time during a series of training and briefing sessions to travel trade representatives. There is an aim to get 1,300 travel agents worldwide to complete the programme. Agent North is also being promoted with a marketing campaign worth £260,000. Both the kit and the training modules will be hosted online for a year after the end of the Northern Tourism Growth Fund programme providing a valuable legacy. To see Agent North, please visit their website.

Still in Australia, a series of receptions and briefings with journalists are taking place this month.

A series of briefings for business owners on how to promote to international markets are about to kick off. Designed and delivered by Blue Sail, the sessions will provide information about the NTGF target markets, consumer segments, routes to market and the expectations and needs of international travellers.

On February 9th, politicians and business influencers attended a House of Commons reception celebrating the on-going success of the NTGF. The event was hosted by VisitEngland Chair Lady Cobham CBE, the NTGF programme board and industry representatives from the North. Invited guests heard from Minister for Tourism, the Rt Hon. David Evennett MP about the ambitious programme of capacity building, product development and trade engagement activities funded through the NTGF.

Latest activity

Plans are finalising for the Northern takeover of the City of London Information Centre in March.
Press trips and travel trade familiarisation visits are still coming in thick and fast, with 40 more press trips being delivered in February and March.

Looking ahead:

Visit County Durham are attending the Explore GB event in Liverpool in March, to promote the county to travel trade representatives from overseas markets
The county will be welcoming a travel trade familiarisation visit from the US, Belgium and France in March following the Explore GB event
The county will be promoted at ITB in March – the world's largest travel trade show which takes place in Berlin


January Update


Latest news

The full line up of carrier and Online Travel Agency partners involved in the Northern Tourism Growth Fund programme has now been finalised. They are: Expedia, P&O, Germanwings, STA, Hainan, Flybe, Cathay Pacific and Thomas Cook. Together they are investing just over £1.2m in cash in the programme. They are also contributing significant match in kind. The total is a big contribution to the programmes’ match funding target of £10m.

A 16-page supplement aimed at Australian travel trade has just been signed off. It will be distributed to 6,000 contacts and provides a wealth of information about the North of England offer.

An event designed to showcase the Northern tourism offer to a political audience has been confirmed. The event will take place at the House of Commons on 9 February. Members of the programme board and key industry influencers from across the North will host MPs, MEPs and the leaders, chairs and chief executives of Northern local authorities and LEPs at a reception where they will hear presentations about the programme and messages about how important it is for them to support tourism in the North.

The North is set to take over the City of London in English Tourism Week. Working with the City of London Corporation all the collateral from the NTGF - images, video, itineraries - will be displayed in the City of London Information Centre, next to St Paul’s for two weeks beginning on 5 March. In addition, staff from the centre will be embarking on familiarisation trips in the North so that they are better able to sell our offer to international visitors who drop into the centre looking for ideas of where to go in England.

Latest activity

Consumer campaigns in all five target markets are launching this month. Brand and awareness campaigns will create consumer demand for short breaks and holidays to northern England. Tactical campaigns with carriers will run in tandem so that consumers know how to travel. The campaign landing pages and the rich online content that sits behind them can be seen at

26 days of photoshoots are scheduled to take place before 31 March. Designed to fill gaps in the Visit England North of England photo library the shoots will focus on capturing experiences that have been suggested by destinations but lack copyright free photos. The images will capture people enjoying city breaks in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle and Hull, and experiencing our countryside and coasts in Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, the Peak District and Lancashire.

The largest trade and consumer show in the Netherlands took place in Holland last week, and was sponsored by the Northern Tourism Growth Fund programme who had a strong presence at the show. Visit County Durham attended, promoting the county to the Dutch market.


Looking ahead…

  • 21 January - Press reception Munich
  • 9 February - House of Commons event
  • 3-4 March – ExploreGB, Liverpool
  • 5 March - Takeover of city of London Information Centre
  • 14 March - Ambassadors event, City of London
  • 14 March - Business Visits and Events sales mission to the US
  • 17 March – Captains of Industry event

December 2015 Update


Latest news

Visit County Durham has continued to participate in Northern Tourism Growth Fund activity in the last month.

In addition to the press and trade visits which have already taken place, Visit County Durham welcomed three more visits in December: a journalist for a Northern England supplement in a major title in the Netherlands; a group visit from travel trade representatives from several markets; a group visit from travel trade representatives from the Netherlands. Visit County Durham is also due to welcome a German journalist and influential travel bloggers in the spring. 

The largest trade event to take place in the North of England was a great success, and was attended by Visit County Durham along with The Bowes Museum, Durham Cathedral and Beamish Museum. 60 inbound trade buyers who do not currently have a lot of the North in their itineraries or sales kits came together with 60 suppliers that exemplify the very best that the area has to offer at the Harrogate International Centre on 8 December. After the event buyers headed out on familiarisation trips to Durham, York, Harrogate and the Peak District.

Visit County Durham are also preparing to attend the largest trade and consumer show in the Netherlands, which takes place in Utrecht next week.


Latest news

The NTGF programme is helping destinations and venues to be more competitive when they are bidding for major conference and events and also to increase the number of delegates to events once they are secured. Work to generate new conference leads for destinations and venues in the north has moved on a step with the appointment of Influential, a sector specialist that researches databases of potential international events and sifts them for the best prospects. Over the next few months they will produce a list of 50 events matched to destination and sector specialisms.

The largest trade event to take place in the North of England has been a great success, and was attended by Visit County Durham. 60 inbound trade buyers who do not currently have a lot of the North in their itineraries or sales kits came together with 60 suppliers that exemplify the very best that the area has to offer at the Harrogate International Centre on 8 December. After the event buyers headed out on familiarisation trips to Durham, York, Harrogate and the Peak District.

Three press receptions have been delivered in Germany with a good response from journalists. Staged by Welcome to Yorkshire and VisitBritain staff the events were designed to encourage journalists to write about the North of England and consider visiting on a press trip in the spring.

To date 45 press trips and 37 trade visits have already happened or are booked in as a result of the NTGF programme.

Make it York who are leading on developing a travel trade tool kit for the north have appointed Travelport to promote and distribute the kit to travel agents worldwide.

Current activity

The media plans for raising awareness of the North of England among overseas consumers are being finalised. The plans include magazine and supplement partnerships in each of the target countries, such as Volkskrant magazine in the Netherlands (from which a journalist visited Durham last week) and Fairfax Media in Australia, alongside digital promotion designed to have a high impact, drive traffic to the NTGF online presence and convert people who are thinking of visiting in to booking a trip.

VisitBritain have been hard at work on behalf of the NTGF. As the programme’s principal international delivery partner they have been instrumental in providing insights into what will and won’t work in overseas markets, sourcing trade partnerships, supporting a wide range of events for press, trade and conference buyers and planning and purchasing the media that will be used in consumer campaigns. New staff, funded by the programme, have been recruited to manage the work on territory including two in New York, one in Berlin, one in Sydney, and one in Beijing. In China, Marketing Manchester has also provided additional resource seconding their route development lead to work on the programme.

Cumbria Tourism has set a series of dates for the new Welcome Germany courses. If they are as popular as the Welcome China courses then places will be snapped up quickly. For further information contact

A workshop is being planned to bring together businesses and destinations, particularly those that are in rural locations, with OTA giant Expedia to explore how to work together to increase bookings into the North of England. The date is still to be finalised but will be towards the end of January/beginning of February. Watch this space.

The digital marketing working group has met for the first time to look at how to improve digital connectivity across the North of England. This is a challenging area of work but the group have concluded that a common approach to how we describe the north, provide travel information and also produce foreign language content are areas to focus on.


November 2015 Update


Latest news

Northern delegates have returned from promoting the North of England to US journalists of all kinds, including bloggers and You Tubers, at two key events on territory, VEMEX and TBEX. The results of their work will become evident over the next few months as media coverage of the area starts to appear in publications, online and on social media channels.


The first of the press receptions in the short haul markets took place last week. Journalists from the Dutch media met with representatives from the North including Visit County Durham, Visit Hull and East Yorkshire and Newcastle at a reception held in Amsterdam.

Consumer promotion in the Netherlands has gone live, with the first activity involving a partnership with P&O Ferries who operate services into Hull. P&O is one of the programmes main investing partners.

The campaign website for consumer promotion in the Netherlands is now live and can be viewed at:


A significant Chinese trade visit has just been completed. Twenty-three Chinese tour operators visited Liverpool, Manchester, Durham, Northumberland, Lancashire and Cumbria on a six day tour. Feedback from the delegates has been very positive and they picked up new product ideas that they could sell to their customers including the Manchester Walking Tour, The Cavern Club, Grassmere Gingerbread and Durham Cathedral.


The PBS programme, Travels with Darley, has completed its filming schedule and the programme will be shown in spring 2016.

Current activity

Training for tourism businesses to improve the welcome we offer to Chinese and German visitors is going well. Lead destination Cumbria Tourism report that currently Welcome China courses scheduled for November and December are filling up fast and many are fully booked. In addition, businesses are coming forward to ask for bespoke sessions for their staff. If you have businesses that are looking to access this help and support contact Andrea Runkee.

The VisitBritain and VisitEngland partnerships teams, along with lead destinations Marketing Manchester and Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, are in the final stages of negotiations with Jet2, STA and Expedia. These partners will help us deliver consumer-facing campaigns in four of our five target markets, with Jet2 focusing on the Netherland and Germany, STA focusing on Australia and Expedia covering Australia and the US.

A filming schedule has been agreed by the Business Visits and Events work stream to produce a showreel to showcase the best of the area for meetings planners and conference buyers. Production company Motiv have been appointed to produce the film and they will additionally produce B-roll footage for individual destinations so that they can produce destination specific films for use in bids and presentations.


October 2015 Update


Latest News

VIBE in the North took place last week and was a great success. Staff from VisitBritain offices all over the world were brought together with businesses and suppliers from the North of England, including Visit County Durham, to meet face to face. The event was held at the Maritime Museum in Liverpool. The Northern Tourism Growth Fund hosted the event and a seminar was delivered to an audience of VisitBritain staff and suppliers talking about the area and how it is being presented to consumers. VisitEngland staff also manned a NTGF desk and met with around 14 suppliers keen to get involved in future activity.

Six delegates from the North of England are currently making their way to New York to take part in VEMEX, the annual exchange that introduces European destinations and companies to US journalists. Representatives from destination organisations in Manchester, Liverpool, Lancashire, Cumbria, York and Yorkshire will take part in 23 media appointments each over the one day event. Four representatives will then go on to take part in TBEX in Fort Lauderdale which focuses on speed dating with bloggers and social influencers.

VisitBritain in the US have secured a high profile broadcast partnership for the programme. The PBS show 'Travels with Darley' are visiting the area to film an episode on the North of England which will be broadcast next year.

A supplier has been appointed to research a list of international events that North of England destinations can bid for and stand a chance of securing. The company are called Influential and won the contract through a tender process. The work is being led by Simon Gidman at VisitEngland and is a project that forms part of the legacy of the NTGF.

Current activity

Media planning for all consumer campaigns in our target markets is being completed under the management of Nicole Huber at VisitBritain, the marketing team at VisitEngland and lead destinations NewcastleGateshead Initiative and Marketing Manchester. Government appointed agency Carat are producing media plans for all brand and awareness activity.

The creative approach for a partnership campaign with P&O ferries in Germany and the Netherlands is being finalised with the intention of the campaign being in market in late October/early November.

Planning for Vakantiebeurs in the Netherlands, the Best of the North trade event at Harrogate in December and Explore GB in Liverpool is well advanced (Visit County Durham is attending all three events).

The research team at VisitEngland have completed a business survey which asked tourism businesses to think about their interest and involvement in international markets. Over 140 surveys were returned and the results are being analysed. Out of the responses 67 businesses expressed an interest in participating in the business development work being led by Cumbria Tourism. Thank you to all those who told their businesses about the survey and encouraged them to complete it. 

Looking ahead…

  • Launch of P&O campaign late October
  • VEMEX and TBEX 26-29 October

September 2015 Update


Latest News

95% of the Northern Tourism Growth Fund (NTGF) programme has been approved by DCMS and is now being delivered by the north’s lead destinations. Outstanding items still to be given the green light are a trade event in March 2016, incoming familiarisation trips for press and trade and the press work on territory in Australia. VisitEngland has provided further clarification on what the activities are designed to achieve and what they offer in terms of value for money and approval is expected in the next few days.

Current activity

Following two content call outs the hero products and signature experiences suggested by destinations in the north are being used to produce collateral for the programme. Photoshoots of hero products that are particularly visual and which tested well with German and American consumers are being managed by lead destination Visit County Durham. The images will be used in the programme’s consumer campaigns and collateral. So far Hadrian’s Wall, NewcastleGateshead Quayside, Salford Quays, Liverpool Docks, the Cavern Club, Haworth and Chester Rows have been completed and Bamburgh Castle, Durham World Heritage Site and York are planned. This is the first tranche of images with more to follow.

The content is also being used to create new itineraries for use by those engaging with media in the target markets and by Welcome to Yorkshire who are managing incoming press trips. The itineraries have been written for the primary consumer segments in each market and for the three thematic pillars of the programme; Hands on History, Inspiring Landscapes and the Modern North. Each itinerary is now being adapted for use with trade and consumer promotion and a further set of itineraries are being created for group travel.

The programme’s evaluation framework is being finalised and will be signed off in the next 10 days.

Short form video specialists, Vidsy, have been commissioned to produce 10 short form videos for the programme that will highlight the north’s food and drink, live experiences and ways to see more. Vidsy have hundreds of creative people all over the north who are adept at producing attention grabbing videos of between 6 and 15 seconds. They will be using the programmes experience database to inform what they produce and the results will be used by VisitBritain, VisitEngland and partners to the programme on their social media platforms. Destinations will also be able to interact and highlight the videos through their own social media activity.

The NTGF programme is helping to raise the profile of the North of England at Destination Britain America in Mexico next week. Led by Marketing Manchester this event is part of the programme’s trade engagement work in the US. Destinations and companies from the north are attending the event and an additional seminar will be delivered showcasing the area in a lively and engaging interactive session. A brochure showcasing the north will be distributed to delegates and an exhibition display stand with images of the north will form the back drop for the session. The programme is also sponsoring the launch event which provides an opportunity to talk to an audience of buyers about Northern England and put it at the front of their minds.

Looking ahead…

  • Launch of consumer campaigns in the Netherlands and Germany - late September
  • Trade event ‘Stately Homes and Gardens’ Tatton - 28 – 29 September
  • VIBE in the North, Liverpool - 15 October

August 2015 Update


Latest News


A match between Manchester United and Paris St. Germain in Chicago, part of the International Champions Cup, has provided the Northern Tourism Growth Fund (NTGF) with a unique hook to engage with the travel trade and media based in the US mid-west. In July, representatives from Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and Sunderland held two separate events in Chicago to meet corporate buyers, meetings organisers and key contacts within the US travel trade and media including Leisure Group Travel USA, CBS Channel and the Chicago Tribune. Over 20 key contacts were made aware of the north of England, its product offer and its daily flights from Chicago into Manchester International Airport.

Results from the early work to promote the new Newark to Newcastle air route are arriving. The campaign website has been visited by 54,000 unique visitors since its launch and 3,000 entries to the competitions were received in the first two weeks. The contacts will be added to the NTGF consumer database. In addition, media partner Lonely Planet has written two new articles about the north of England and five additional media visits have happened or are planned as part of the initiative.

Netherlands and Germany

Five commercial partners have been confirmed for the consumer campaign activity taking place in the Netherlands and Germany. With a mix of online tour operators, airlines and ferry companies coming on board tactical activity in these markets will promote four routes into the north of England: Hull, Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds. Work is ongoing to secure additional partners and connectivity. The tactical activity will work in tandem with consumer marketing to raise awareness of our offer. The campaigns are currently scheduled to begin in mid-September.

Visit Hull and East Yorkshire (VHEY) have been given the go ahead to take the north of England to Vakantiebeurs in Utrecht in January 2016. VHEY will be working closely with VisitBritain to create a 'North of England' presence. More information will be provided in due course.

Andrea Runkee has been assigned by Cumbria Tourism to coordinate Cumbria-led activity to support tourism businesses who want to work the international markets and who receive international guests. Andrea has a lot of experience in the sector, having worked for Cumbria Tourism on similar projects and will be focusing on ensuring the north provides an excellent welcome to visitors from Germany and China in particular. You may hear from her very soon.


Five itineraries showcasing the north of England have been provided via VisitBritain Sydney to the Australian travel trade. This is a critical step to ensure that the north of England is included in trade brochures and programmes for 2016 so that when consumers are encouraged to consider the north for a visit trade companies have relevant product to sell them.

VisitBritain support

VisitBritain has offered the NTGF programme a free opportunity to showcase the north of England in its Imagination publication. 300,000 hardcopies of this high profile quality magazine are produced plus digital versions and it is produced in 10 languages including Chinese, German and English. Not only does this provide additional exposure for the north of England in our target markets and beyond, it also contributes to our in-kind match funding targets.

Key dates

Launch of consumer campaigns in Netherlands and Germany - mid September
Trade event ‘Stately Homes and Gardens’ Tatton - 28–29 September
VIBE in the North, Liverpool - 15 October


July 2015 Update


Latest News

The Northern Tourism Growth Fund programme has been given the go ahead to deliver a second event for UK-based inbound trade in mid-Autumn, with the working title of ‘Large Scale Travel Trade Event’. ETOA (European Tour Operators Association) will also be the event organisers working with NTGF lead destination, Marketing Cheshire. This is an opportunity for businesses in the North who want to engage with travel trade companies to meet face-to-face and grow their business. More information will be available shortly.

Testing of the NTGF ‘creative hooks’ has been completed. It took place with consumer groups in the US and Germany to see if the hooks would interest and motivate people to put the North of England on their consideration list. The main messages from the testing was to keep messaging simple, not assume that there is a good level of understanding of our geography or cultural references and to push our countryside and history to the fore. The consumer groups were surprised and interested in what they saw.

A meeting for the lead destinations, of which Visit County Durham is one, has been arranged for 11 August at York Racecourse. This meeting will provide an overview of the whole programme, something they weren’t able to do at the Rheged meeting, and provide leads with a better understanding of the evaluation requirements of the programme. Delegates will also see the creative approach and framework for NTGF.

The Australian media have decided to boycott the Rugby World Cup (RWC) in a dispute over rights. The broadcast media will be showing just the Australian games and the press will not be covering the event. This means that NTGF plans for Australia are being revisited as the RWC was a main platform for consumer, press and trade work.

In the last few weeks five detailed delivery plans have been submitted to the DCMS for approval. Another five are due to be submitted this week, leaving just a handful outstanding. Once approval is granted then implementation will begin.

The first of the events for UK-based inbound travel trade, ‘Northern England Stately Homes and Gardens’ will take place on 28th and 29th of September at Tatton Park in Cheshire. Marketing Cheshire are leading on this with ETOA. More details on this and the other planned travel trade activities will be detailed shortly as part of a wider communication coming soon.

Marketing Manchester is delivering a corporate hospitality event in the US at the end of July to meet with US based journalists, travel trade companies and meetings planners. The event is using a football match between Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain taking place in Chicago as the hook to attract guests to the event. Destinations with clubs in the premiership are working with Manchester to showcase the North of England to these key influencers and encourage them to take future trips to the North of England. 

VisitEngland plan to issue a media statement toward the end of August about the NTGF programme. The focus will be on commercial partnerships for the programme, the amount of match funding secured for work in Germany and the Netherlands and any other good news that has emerged over the next few weeks.


June 2015 Update


Latest News

The Northern Tourism Growth Fund delivery plans have been divided into work packages and destinations have been identified to lead on delivering them. Visit County Durham is leading on the Content, Creative and Digital work package along with Leeds and Lancashire.

Over 300 suggestions for hero and supporting product and signature experiences have been submitted by destination organisations from across the North. They have been entered into a database and will be held there for reference and use as the programme moves into the delivery phase.

The first meeting of the content, creative and digital workstream has taken place (of which VCD marketing manager Sarah Johnson is a member). The group were joined by creative agency Lowe and also Carat, the government’s media buying agency. The group reviewed the results of the content call out and identified six ‘hooks’ designed to make the North of England offer distinctive and provide a way into talking about the product offer more broadly. The hooks are (working titles): Hands on history; Eat where it is made; Great ways to get around; the Modern North; Inspiring landscapes (to include cityscapes); and Live music. These hooks are now being tested in two of the NTGF target overseas markets.

A destination get-together at Rheged, Cumbria, on 17th June was attended by over 30 organisations. Most of the meeting was devoted to information exchange and briefing sessions to bring everyone to up to date on the programme, develop collaboration and set out the opportunities to get involved.

Marketing Liverpool, NTGF lead for maximising large events, report that articles have appeared in NY1 news, Nederlands Dagbladet and Cruisereiziger as a result of activity around the Cunard 175th anniversary celebrations. Marketing Liverpool hosted a Northern Tourism Growth Fund press event with media from three key markets including Australia, North America and the Netherlands. Destination partners presented to the group, updating on the Northern tourism offer including Hull UK Capital of Culture 2017 and developments at Chester Zoo. Journalist media packs contained Northern information submitted from across the region, including content on Durham.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative report that consumer promotion has begun in the NYC area of the US to promote the new air route between Newcastle and Newark. The promotion involves working closely with Lonely Planet who have created a dedicated website that will be live for four months, which features Durham.

Current activity

Lead destinations are producing plans with detailed information on what they will be delivering on behalf of the programme, how much it will cost and how the activity will be evaluated. Two plans have been finalised and at least 11 are nearing completion.


Previous News

The Northern Futures programme has been renamed Northern Tourism Growth Fund.

Following a competitive tender process, a research company has been appointed to conduct two waves of perception and awareness research in the programme’s target overseas markets. The first wave will begin in July to establish current levels of awareness and also how the North of England is perceived. The follow up will take place in late 2016 to measure the success of activity.
Creative agency pitches have also taken place and an agency will be appointed imminently.

The celebrations of the 175th anniversary of the Cunard sailings were successful and the event has already generated media coverage in the programme’s target overseas markets. The Northern Tourism Growth Fund supported additional activity including an evening reception and a press briefing and press pack that included information from across the North (including Durham).

Previous activity

The programme’s delivery plans have now been finalised.

Destinations leading on elements of the plans (of which Visit County Durham is one) are now working on detailed action plans that will be used to gain approval from the Department of Culture Media and Sport to spend programme money. The action plans are due to be finalised by 19th June.

Visit County Durham submitted, along with the other northern destinations, the county’s proposed hero products and signature experiences for use in programme activity, which are now being curated and checked against target segments in overseas markets.

The launch of the new Newcastle/Newark route has taken place and promotional activity to highlight this new connectivity is underway. Activity features Durham alongside other northern destinations.


May 2015 Update


Following a competitive tender process, research company SQW has been appointed to produce an evaluation framework for the Northern Futures project.

The Northern Futures working groups, of which Visit County Durham is a member, have produced a set of eight draft delivery plans: five that are specific to the Northern Futures markets and three that are either sector specific or relate to cross cutting activity. The plans have been reviewed by the programme board and Visit Britain overseas staff and are now being amended in light of feedback. They will be circulated to all destinations in the Northern Futures area at final draft.

Work to promote the new air route between Newcastle and Newark in the US has been agreed and will be led by Newcastle Gateshead Initiative. This is one of the fast track activities to maximise an opportunity that is time specific.

A follow up to the Northern Futures Manchester workshop, which Visit County Durham attended, has been scheduled for June in Cumbria.

Four bids have been received to evaluate the awareness and perception of the North of England in the programme’s target markets. Two of the bids have been shortlisted and are being scored to identify a supplier.

Bids are expected this week to carry out the creative work for Northern Futures, with creative pitches taking place on 20 May.

The celebrations of the 175th anniversary of the Cunard sailings between Liverpool and New York begin on 25 May and will last for two months. Press work to promote the event to overseas markets will cover cultural product in the North including HOME in Manchester and Hull as UK City of Culture in 2017.

Visit County Durham will receive a call out for content by the last week in May requesting product information for use in programme activity.

Looking ahead… Creative pitches 20 May Cunard 175th celebrations 25 May Destinations update meeting, Cumbria 17 June


April 2015 Update


April 2015 update
Funding for Northern Futures was approved by the Department of Culture Media and Sport on 30 March. £10m has been allocated to the project and this is expected to be matched with a further £10m with a total project spend of £20m.

Three working groups have been established: Leisure and Connectivity; Travel Trade (of which Sarah Johnson, VCD Marketing Manager is a member); Business Visits and Events. A fourth work stream will consider digital activity to support the whole programme. To date 14 destination organisations, which includes Visit County Durham, have participated in creating  marketing and delivery plans.

The Northern Futures Expert Group has evolved in to the Programme Board for the project, with representatives from six destinations, two from the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humberside, plus Visit England and Visit Britain. The Programme Board is currently reviewing progress on a weekly basis. Visit England have appointed a Project Delivery Director, Melanie Sensicle, to coordinate Northern Futures and ensure its successful delivery.

Initial working group meetings are taking place and second meetings are scheduled for April. The focus at this early stage is to scope, cost and plan the delivery of activity.

A set of activities have been fast tracked to ensure that the opportunities they present to promote the North of England in the US, Germany and Netherlands aren’t missed. These are: new air routes between the North of England and the US, Europe’s largest B2B event for the conference industry and the high profile sporting event, the Tour de Yorkshire.

A tender has been issued to appoint a specialist supplier to provide an evaluation framework for the Northern Futures programme. Visit England is also looking to provide a baseline for perceptions of the North of England in target markets to ensure that evaluation is meaningful.

A creative brief has been produced to appoint a creative agency to support Northern Futures work. The creative execution of all Northern Futures activity will position the programme within the family of Britain is GREAT campaigns but with a distinctly northern flavour.

Looking ahead…
Leisure and connectivity working group 21 April
Travel Trade working group 30 April
Tour de Yorkshire 1-3 May
Newcastle / Newark air route launches 4 May
Cunard 175th  celebrations 25 May
Northern Futures destinations meeting early June


Annual Review

Destination Performance

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