Skip to content

Business & Economy

North East tourism organisations become first in England to be recognised with new national status

Regional bodies leading on the promotion, marketing and development of the North East’s visitor economy are the first to be recognised by VisitEngland in a government programme to establish a new structure for the tourism industry.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), Visit County Durham, part of Durham County Council, and Visit Northumberland are the first organisations to be recognised by VisitEngland in a new national portfolio of strategic tourism bodies which are to be called Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEPs). The LVEPs will work in collaboration with local, regional and national stakeholders on shared priorities to support and grow the visitor economy.

This new programme gives the three Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) nationally recognised official status with a stronger strategic relationship with VisitEngland. They will be critical partners in place-shaping, providing effective leadership and management of the destination and ensuring it is inclusive, accessible and sustainable for visitors nationally and internationally.

The LVEP programme embeds robust destination management planning principles, best practice sharing and a commitment to ensure industry engagement in the development of the visitor economy. Organisations will be reviewed on an annual basis to evidence their impact and the quality of their operations.

VisitEngland director, Andrew Stokes, said:  “LVEPs are at the heart of transforming the visitor economy landscape in England and we are delighted to welcome NGI, Visit County Durham and Visit Northumberland into the scheme, the first to gain the nationally recognised official LVEP status. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration as the LVEPs are established, providing ongoing support including a dedicated VisitEngland regional development lead.

“Great destinations are great places to live, work and to visit. Having the right national and local infrastructure in place to grow our visitor economy, in an inclusive, accessible and sustainable way, will ensure England continues to be a compelling destination for both domestic and international visitors.”

John Marshall, chair of NGI, said: “It is fantastic that the North East is a trailblazer and is home to the first tourism organisations to be officially recognised by VisitEngland.

“This nationally recognised status acknowledges that NGI is operating at the highest level and will allow us to further support and boost the tourism sector. With one in four jobs in our city being in tourism and hospitality, it is critical that we work collaboratively to develop our offer and secure further investment. We look forward to working with the tourism industry to continue to grow our visitor economy, attracting more visitors to our fantastic city and creating more jobs for residents.”

Andrew Fox, chair of Visit Northumberland, said: “We are very proud to be at the forefront of delivering the ambitions of the De Bois Review of domestic tourism and welcome the role that we have to play in driving forward change with our partners in the North East of England. Visit Northumberland remains wholeheartedly committed to delivering the priorities of the Northumberland Destination Management Plan and working closely with our partners and local stakeholders in doing so.

“We are grateful for VisitEngland’s confidence in awarding us accredited LVEP status, and their acknowledgment of the progress we have made in galvanising the Northumberland visitor economy. We welcome the accreditation, we support the national coordination of the tourism industry and we look forward to sharing our learnings as other destinations embark on their journey.”

Ivor Stolliday, chair of Visit County Durham, said: “Receiving Local Visitor Economy Partnership accreditation is fantastic news for Durham. Not only does it reflect the effectiveness of our strategic approach to growing the county’s visitor economy, but the wide-ranging support we offer to tourism businesses.

“As a Local Visitor Economy Partnership, we will be in the best position to further expand on these activities, while continuing to work closely with neighbouring LVEPs and tourism bodies for the benefit of the entire region. What’s more, it will strengthen our relationships with VisitEngland and VisitBritain, ensuring the North East has a strong national voice.”

This is the next step in implementing the government’s response to the De Bois Review of DMOs. In December, the North East was announced as the pilot area for a new regional tourism framework called a Destination Development Partnership (DDP) which has resulted in the region receiving £2.25million additional funding.

The DDP pilot is a collaboration led by NGI working with Visit County Durham, Visit Northumberland and the seven North East local authorities in the North of Tyne Combined Authority and North East Combined Authority areas. The DDP aims to unlock growth and the untapped potential in the North East’s visitor economy.

VisitEngland has now opened applications to its LVEP programme and is calling for eligible DMOs from across England to apply.