A council leader has fired the starting gun on a race to make Northumberland the most visited county in the country.
Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, believes Scandinavia and the Baltic states offer great tourism potential.
The impact of the tourist trade on the Northumberland economy is already over £700m per year and Councillor Davey hopes to increase opportunities to increase the trade by at least 15 per cent in the next five years.
Plans are already underway to rebrand Northumberland and the authority is keen to work with potential partners in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland as well as 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 Alnwick Garden and aims to develop and market a Northumberland 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 links to Newcastle and come from the Scandinavian and Baltic states, although they have had to do so via Amsterdam since the crossing from Bergen in Norway closed several years ago.
Figures released by UK Trade and Investment estimate that the ‘Viking Raiders’ have an estimated gross disposable income of over £600m per year. It’s also estimated that over 2,000 jobs rely on the tourism trade in the county with thousands more linked to the supply chain.
Councillor Davey, who also leads the Labour group at County Hall, said: “Tourism is already worth over £700m a year to the Northumberland economy but we need to encourage more visitors to our beautiful county.
“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.”