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Our Update

TASTECLUB joins forces with NewcastleGateshead Initiative

tasteclubFrom 1 April 2014, TASTECLUB, the organisation which promotes and sells the food and drink talent and products of North East England will become part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative.

Over the past three years, TASTECLUB has built up its membership levels, secured income streams and developed a positive profile for the TASTECLUB brand. Having successfully developed the business, the board and management team agreed that further growth could best be secured by joining forces with a larger organisation and identified NewcastleGateshead Initiative as a natural fit.

The two organisations have been in discussions over the last three months and the acquisition of TASTECLUB by NewcastleGateshead Initiative was formally announced at TASTECLUB’s AGM on Tuesday 4 March.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative Chief Executive Sarah Stewart said: “We are delighted that TASTECLUB will soon come on board. There is a natural synergy between the two organisations and our core areas of activity. This is a great opportunity to further develop TASTECLUB as well as strengthening many aspects of our existing business, from the development and promotion of EAT! NewcastleGateshead – the food and drink festival - through to our work with regional, national and international media to profile the area’s many assets.”

Jane Hogan, Chief Executive at TASTECLUB, said: “TASTECLUB is a not-for-profit company, with all income reinvested in promoting independently produced food and drink. We quickly identified NewcastleGateshead Initiative as a business that shared our ethos and approach to championing the region and supporting the growth of the local economy – albeit on a much larger scale.

“And it is this scale, profile and marketing clout that we believe offers such a great opportunity for the TASTECLUB business to continue to grow and realise its full potential in the years ahead.”

Sarah Stewart added: “The two members of TASTECLUB staff will join our team next month and for TASTECLUB members and customers it should be a smooth transition and business as usual. After much discussion, Jane has decided to take this opportunity to pursue a new start-up opportunity and we wish her every success; I have no doubt we will keep in touch with news of TASTECLUB’s future development and success stories.”

NewcastleGateshead Initiative is currently in the process of setting up a wholly owned trading company for emerging business development opportunities, including TASTECLUB. The trading company, to be called NGI Solutions Limited, will provide a separate legal entity for projects distinct from NewcastleGateshead Initiative core activity, which is part-funded by Gateshead Council and Newcastle City Council. As public sector funding continues to decline, NGI Solutions will enable NewcastleGateshead Initiative to secure new projects and commercial income which can be reinvested in its primary aim: to inspire people to visit, and to live, learn work and invest in NewcastleGateshead.

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Industry award for best bureau in England

NGI Convention Bureau

NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau secured the accolade of best convention bureau in England at the prestigious Meetings and Incentive Travel Industry Awards 2014, beating off stiff competition from other top bureaux including London & Partners and Liverpool Convention Bureau.

Organised by Meetings & Incentive Travel (M&IT) magazine, the awards event took place on 25 February at Battersea Evolution in London, bringing together international industry leaders from the conference sector to reward service and product excellence. There were 19 awards in total, voted for by the readers of M&IT Magazine. Our Convention Bureau team won the silver award for ‘best UK Convention Bureau’. Glasgow scooped the gold award.

Paul Szomoru, Head of Business Tourism at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, said: “It is great to be rewarded on a national stage for our professionalism and performance. This awards ceremony is the standout calendar event of the year for the industry to come together and celebrate success. We are delighted that the calibre of our work has been recognised and that we can stake a claim to being the best bureau in England.

“Business tourism is a key part of the overall visitor economy, which is now worth £1.3bn to NewcastleGateshead. Our work to bring high-quality conferences and events here not only delivers direct economic impact but also showcases the destination to business visitors who become influential advocates for the place - and our leisure visitors of the future. With this latest award under our belt, we’re looking forward to another busy and successful 2014.”

NewcastleGateshead’s new Meetings and Events Guide was also launched to conference planners at the show, having twice won the Meetings Industry Marketing Award for Best Brochure (2010, 2012). The new guide is designed with the Convention Bureau’s successful ‘Experiences Delegates Love’ campaign in mind and has maintained its most popular features; integrated QR codes, testimonials and a destination user guide.

Click here to view the NewcastleGateshead Meeting and Events Guide or to order a copy, please email

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Charles Grey anniversary inspires EAT! NewcastleGateshead event

Charles GreyThe first event of our annual EAT! NewcastleGateshead food festival was launched on Thursday 13 March, with sponsor, Port of Tyne, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Charles Grey.

Tea & Cake Planet, A Weekend Adventure in Brewing and Baking, combines a celebration of the nation’s favourite tipple with EAT!’s fifth Cakebook outing. Port of Tyne ( – a major importer and exporter of tea in the UK - is proud sponsor of EAT! NewcastleGateshead in 2014. The launch event celebrated Charles Grey – the former British British Prime Minister who introduced his namesake tea to the UK and who is immortalised in Newcastle’s Grey’s Monument.

Taking place at The Boiler Shop, Newcastle, on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 June 2014, the event brings together some of the North East’s leading tea-upstarts with century-old blenders for two days of tea dances, pop-up afternoon tea, tea-themed street food stalls, traditional tea parties, and tea-themed cocktails and beer.

Nothing goes better with a nice cup of tea than a slice of cake, which is why EAT! NewcastleGateshead’s famous Cakebook event is making a welcome return. Cake Planet invites teams of amateur and professional bakers to create their favourite landmark, building or iconic location from across the globe out of cake.

Andrew Moffat, Port of Tyne Chief Executive, said: “NewcastleGateshead’s EAT! Festival showcases the very best in North East food and the Port of Tyne is proud to help support local producers, businesses and communities.”

Carol Bell, Head of Culture and Major Events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative and producer of EAT! said: “The rise of tea and brewing start-ups is just one of NewcastleGateshead’s food success stories. EAT! is a great way for us to shout about the wealth of talent we have in this sector and position NewcastleGateshead as one of the UK’s best foodie destinations.”

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Destination healthcheck shows a good year for tourism

NGI Research Team Annual business performance figures for 2013 released by our Research Team show it was a good year for tourism across NewcastleGateshead and the wider North East region.

Information collected from a range of leisure and tourism business from across NewcastleGateshead and the North East region shows visitor numbers to paid attractions are up 14% to 542,490, mainly driven by a 25% growth in visitors to the Life Science Centre (part of the International Centre for Life).

Hotel occupancy has grown year-on-year between 2012 and 2013 at 72%, marking a 2% increase which was helped by a strong end to the year from August onwards.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s partnership working with DFDS to deliver a jointly-funded marketing and PR campaign that targets city break visitors in Holland and Belgium, has contributed to a 13% increase in overall passenger numbers (up to 44,580).

A number of hotel developments have signalled that there is real investor confidence in NewcastleGateshead at present, from an increased retail offering thanks to the redevelopment of Monument Mall and Trinity Square in Gateshead, to a growth in hotel accommodation stock – providing wider choice and variety for visitors staying overnight in the destination. Overnight visitors spent 4.3 million nights in the destination in 2012, a 5% increase on the previous year and indicators show that 2013 has also seen growth with the number of rooms sold, up by 4%. Currently the visitor economy is worth £1.3bn in NewcastleGateshead.

The announcement of a new Hilton development at the Baron House site near Central Station adds to the already quality offering available in the destination, and alongside Crowne Plaza, which is due to open in 2015, cements NewcastleGateshead’s reputation as a first-rate city break destination attracting international brands alongside high-end independent operators.

Our Research Team has access to a wealth of tourism business data as well as national and international tourism reports and surveys. In addition to this research, they have access to sophisticated survey software enabling them to help with your upcoming research needs. Examples of recent projects include: A concert evaluation for Durham County Cricket Club, the Northumberland Visitor Survey and Sage Gateshead’s ‘Hearing in HD’ campaign evaluation.

To find out how the team can help you, contact: Ian Thomas, Research Manager on 0191 440 5731 or email

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Investment strategy brings international recognition for NewcastleGateshead

European Cities and Regions NewcastleGateshead has ranked in the top 10 categories in European Cities and Regions of the Future 2014/15, following a successful submission to the internationally recognised study by our Inward Investment Team.

This is the first time the destination has featured on the list, which is compiled by fDi magazine (A Financial Times publication). Newcastle upon Tyne is fifth in the top 10 Mid-Sized European Cities overall, tenth in the Human Capital and Lifestyle category and sixth in the FDI Strategy category (Foreign Direct Investment).

To create a shortlist for the fDi European Cities of the Future 2014/15, the fDi Intelligence division of the Financial Times collected data from 468 locations, both cities and regions, in five categories: Economic Potential, Human Capital and Lifestyle, Cost Effectiveness, Infrastructure and Business Friendliness.

Catherine Walker, inward investment director at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “It’s our aim to raise the profile and improve the perception of NewcastleGateshead as a place to invest with a target to be regarded as a top five UK location for offshore, digital (in particular software and games development) and science and technology by 2020.

“The fDi European Cities and Regions of the Future rankings 2014/15 is an independent and impartial assessment of our destination that is an excellent endorsement of the people, places and businesses that make NewcastleGateshead an attractive option for potential investors who are looking for a UK base. This is the first time we’ve appeared in the rankings and to be placed in the top 10 within three categories is a clear indication that investor confidence in the destination is high.”

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NewcastleGateshead Local Heroes launched on Quayside

Local HeroesWorking with Gateshead Council and Newcastle City Councils, we launched NewcastleGateshead Local Heroes on Tuesday 24 March to celebrate the area’s most inspiring people from the past 60 years.

Nominated by the public, 20 of the area’s most inspiring people from the past 60 years have been honoured with a bronze plaque installed on one of the destination’s most iconic visitor sites – the Quayside.

The trail was opened by the wife of the late Sir Bobby Robson, Lady Elsie Robson, who commented: “I am proud that Bob has been honoured as part of NewcastleGateshead Local Heroes. To have his achievements, both in football and through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, commemorated and remembered in this way is wonderful. That he was nominated by the public for the honour is even more touching.”

Lady Elsie Robson attended the launch alongside Local Heroes, their friends and family including, Kathryn Tickell; Brendan Foster; Dame Margaret Barbour; Professor of Clinical Genetics; Sir John Burn; photographer, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen; children’s author, David Almond; Ray Laidlaw Rod Clements and Ray Jackson from Lindisfarne; community champion Doreen Jardine from Blake law; and the families of the late Alderman Edward Cowen and writer, Julia Darling.

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing organisation, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “NewcastleGateshead Local heroes received more than 300 nominations in its first year – an overwhelming endorsement of some truly inspirational individuals. We attract more than 17 million people from all over the world every year thanks to a dynamic cultural offer and a reputation for great shopping, nightlife and entertainment. Our famously friendly and welcoming people are as important, and honouring some of our most notable Local Heroes in this way will help us tell the story of NewcastleGateshead.”

The project forms part of the already vibrant offer for leisure and business tourists to the destination. The public were encouraged to nominate individuals that made them feel genuinely inspired and proud to call the place home.

Paralympian and freeman of Gateshead, Stephen Miller was also honoured by the scheme, he said: “I am very humbled and proud to be honoured as part of NewcastleGateshead Local Heroes. There is no better feeling than having your achievements recognised by others, even though everything I do, I do because it gives me great enjoyment. I'm a North East lad and love the region, which makes this so special.

“I was surprised to be nominated by the public, as there has been so many great people from NewcastleGateshead, to be in such company is a real honour.”

Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “I’m delighted the public have whole-heartedly supported this project and nominated some truly inspirational individuals. Newcastle has nurtured many hundreds of talented, inspiring and notable individuals over the years, from scientists to sports personalities. This is a wonderful way to permanently celebrate their achievements.”

Gateshead Council Cabinet Member for Culture, Cllr Linda Green, said: “Here in Gateshead we have seen some truly magnificent developments – we host world-class athletics and welcome international artists daily at both Sage Gateshead and BALTIC. Local Heroes focuses on our brilliant people, those who have made a difference to life in Gateshead and it’s fantastic to have their names set into the landscape of our Quayside.”

2013 was the first year for NewcastleGateshead Local Heroes. Nominations were sought from August to October and there will be an annual call for further suggestions, when more Local Heroes’ plaques will be added. For further information on the project and those nominated visit  

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February 2014 Update

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December 2013 Update

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