Awards success helps put Northumberland on the map
Tourism operators are hoping Northumberland will reap the rewards of national recognition in the BBC Countryfile magazine awards.
The Northumberland coast was crowned Holiday Destination of the Year, while Embleton Bay, with its stunning views towards the ancient Dunstanburgh Castle, won Beach of the Year.
The Farne Islands also scooped second place for Nature Reserve of the Year.
Jeff Sutheran, chairman of North Northumberland Tourism Association, said: “We know that Northumberland has as much, if not more, to offer than many more famous destinations, and in recent years some excellent coverage and recognition for the county has made large numbers of people aware of how beautiful it is, perhaps for the first time.
“These Countryfile Awards continue that work, and undoubtedly there will be many people who will hear about them and ask themselves why they’ve never visited Northumberland – and then set about rectifying that. That is good news for the blooming and hugely important tourism industry in our area.
“The county’s representation at all kinds of national awards is demonstrating that Northumberland has some of the very best businesses, in all sectors, anywhere in the country. Standards are being driven upwards consistently, and more jobs are being created every year.
“Of course, increased visitor numbers bring some challenges as well as opportunities to the local tourism industry, and to some communities too. There are some problems with aspects of the infrastructure we have in place to support increasing numbers of visitors, and in times of budget austerity that is raising some real challenges.
“And some will say that we risk bringing too many people, to an area whose charm is often associated with its isolation and tranquility. The North Northumberland Tourism Association is working hard to attract some of those visitors inland, away from the coastal hotspots which can become congested in high season. There is plenty of opportunity to find peace and quiet, and have the place to yourself, in Northumberland!”
Northumberland County Council leader Grant Davey added: “We couldn’t be more delighted that the county has received these awards.”
He continued: “The fact that they were voted for by the public makes it all the more special.
“I think we can sometimes take for granted the sheer beauty, diversity and uniqueness of the county but those of us who are fortunate enough to live here do know what a special place it is. It is good to know that our visitors also agree.”
“Tourism is incredibly important to our local economy, especially for our rural communities. These awards will put the county on the national and international tourism map and provide us with the type of positive publicity that no amount of money could buy.”
Tourism is a huge growth area for Northumberland. In 2013, £730million was injected into the county’s economy economy by 8.8 million visitors and over 13,200 jobs rely on tourism. Since then, many attractions, activity providers, accommodation businesses and hospitality establishments have reported increases in business.
In recent years, Northumberland County Council has worked collaboratively on a number of initiatives to encourage more visitors, to develop sustainable tourism and to reaffirm the county’s proud identity.
At the same time it has been supporting and assisting local businesses to maximise the opportunities that tourism can bring.