Sarah Stewart, chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, explains how the region will positively make an exhibition of itself.
NewcastleGateshead has hosted its fair share of major cultural and sporting events over the years. From the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Rugby World Cup 2015, to Turner Prize 2011 and the International Print Biennale, the destination is well versed in presenting world-class events that attract audiences from all over the world.
2018 is set to build on this reputation with the arrival of Great Exhibition of the North (www.getnorth2018.com); the biggest event in England next year.
A celebration of the North of England’s achievements in arts and culture, design and innovation, Great Exhibition of the North is free and family friendly. It takes place from 22 June to 9 September and is expected to engage with an audience of three million people. The scale and ambition of the Exhibition provides a fantastic opportunity for tourism businesses to showcase their offers and experiences to a brand-new audience of visitors.
With the United Kingdom an increasingly affordable destination, particularly for international visitors, events like Great Exhibition of the North have the potential to attract visitors from across the world.
Already, tourism is the fourth largest sector in the North East and collectively across the wider region it is worth billions to the UK economy. Great Exhibition will put the North of England on the map, change perceptions and help to further grow the visitor economy as a result.
NewcastleGateshead Initiative, the lead delivery partner, is currently implementing a marketing and communications campaign that targets regional, national and international visitors. Focussing on family audiences, the campaign showcases the cultural and economic powerhouse that is the North of England.
As well as promoting the Exhibition itself, the campaign also focuses on tackling outdated stereotypes and presenting the ground-breaking developments born out of the North that are changing the way we live our lives; both now and in the future. Great Exhibition of the North will show why the North isn’t just an amazing place to visit, but a dynamic place to live and do business.
The Exhibition programme brings together artists, performers and creatives working collaboratively with innovative Northern businesses to create an outstanding summer of amazing exhibits, inspired technology, vibrant street performance, cutting edge culture and magical experiences.
Some of the early announcements include a showcase of the best in Northern contemporary art at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, a landmark display at Great North Museum celebrating iconic objects from across the North – including the space suit worn by Briton’s first astronaut, Sheffield-born Helen Sharman, and John Lennon’s famous Record Plant Piano. Stephenson’s iconic Rocket locomotive will also return to its birthplace in Newcastle where it will be on display at the Discovery Museum.
The full 80-day programme will be unveiled in early 2018.
Tourism businesses across NewcastleGateshead and the wider North will undoubtedly benefit from the Exhibition – with international visitors encouraged to venture beyond the London to enjoy pan-Northern itineraries packed with fantastic experiences and the Great Exhibition as a focal point.
Virgin Trains, who will launch their new Azuma train in the same year – are the Exhibition’s official travel partner and will help to bring people from both the North and South to the destination this summer. Internationally, Newcastle Airport is the Exhibition’s international gateway, working with NGI to attract visitors from key European markets and further afield.
Pumping an additional £180m into the regional economy, the event provides a significant opportunity to grow tourism and leave a legacy that sees visitors continue to visit for many years to come.
A toolkit will also be available for business looking to show their support for the Exhibition.
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