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2018 Year of Cultural Heritage and Tourism

September 5, 2015 3:36 PM

Councillor Doreen Huddart has called upon Newcastle City Council to capitalise on the opportunities that the 2018 European Year of Culture, Heritage and Tourism could bring to the City and Region.

She told the September Council meeting : "Each year there are thousands of festivals across the UK, Europe and the wider world. They bring people with common interests together to share an experience, be that interest literature, science, cinema and film, food, sport, sailing, steam engines or music in its multitude of formats.
In addition to the cultural value these activities bring to the participants, we clearly have to consider the financial and resource value to the participating cities and venues. The thousands of visitors, the full hotels, the extra visitors to the art shows and museums, the hiring of church halls and similar venues generate millions of pounds as well as jobs and press coverage.
Just look at what the Edinburgh Festival generates for the city or the Literature Festival for Hay on Wye or Glastonbury or the Welsh Eisteddfod - they have an international reputation and endless media coverage.
It took Edinburgh decades to work the festival up to its current format of performing arts, films, science literature etc to the point it has some 100,000 visitors during the festival weeks but also another 80,000 for the Hogmanay celebrations. Small wonder it is called the powerhouse of the Scottish economy with the £245million ( a quarter of a £billion) the festival generates for the city, plus more for Scottish tourism
Many of the visitors who come to our City and Region, to see their offspring at University, visit friends, attend a wedding, and even those young folk who come for stag and hen parties, also take great pleasure in visiting buildings from our cultural offering - Such as Durham Cathedral, the Angel of the North, Alnwick Castle, Cragside, the Sage, Hadrian's wall, the Hancock to name but a few, because of the history, the architecture, the interest in ideas, in thinking, in civilization and how the human race has evolved. And we know how popular the Heritage Open Days venues and visits are and how many attend the sites on offer.
I'm aware that there are already venues in the City offering a season of films or music or plays or displays, but the proposed 2018 year provides us with an opportunity to expand and capitalise on these one off or individual events and provide a co-ordinated year long programme We could work on our own or better still in conjunction with other Combined Authorities and the Universities, Museums, Cultural venues etc to achieve a Region wide series of events The opportunity also presents us with the chance to promote our Region, increase tourism and generate income as well as fill some of those new hotel spaces which have been recently built.
I understand that last year some 17.6million people visited Newcastle & Gateshead last year an increase of 1%, and the number of day visitors was also up to 15.5million. Almost one million people came here to attend business conferences which also contributed to our economy
1.9million people stayed overnight contributing some £439million to the local economy, with the average spend by visitors being £176.88 per person
The number of people directly employed in tourism is about 14,900 but when we add in extra such as food and drink and hotel staff this number clearly increases
So I'm asking if Council agrees to begin discussions with similar groups, investigate sources of possible funding, as well as giving feedback to both council and citizens about any progress made."

After the usual Labour Party Not Invented Here quibbles, the idea was backed unanimously