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How the North will put the great in Great Britain

JON UNDERWOOD reports from ExploreGB 2018, where Newcastle is gearing up to host England's largest event of the year.

Visitors to the UK are being promised a “summer to remember” with the launch of the Great Exhibition of the North.


Unveiled to media and delegates at ExploreGB 2018, the 80 day celebration of Northern art, culture, design and innovation will be staged across more than 30 venues in NewcastleGateshead. Taking place from June 22 to September 9, it will be the largest event happening in England in 2018.


Angel of the North, Low Eighton, Newcastle


“We are getting ready to put on an unforgettable show,” said Sarah Stewart, Chief Executive, NewcastleGateshead Initiative.


“The Great Exhibition of the North is going to be packed with amazing exhibits, live performances, displays of innovations, artworks, you name it.


“In the spirit of great exhibitions of the past, this will truly be a showcase of what we’re calling the outstanding and the extraordinary.”


The free exhibition is targeting an audience of three million, both from within the UK and overseas, and is aimed at encouraging travellers to see more of the country than just London.


“This exhibition is our opportunity to change perceptions of the north of England. Our visitors will take with them a new understanding of what the north has to offer and that is why we are inviting the world to come and join us for a summer to remember.”


Now in its fourth year, ExploreGB features more than 280 international travel buyers from 29 countries doing business with more than 330 tourism suppliers from across the UK. More than 32,000 business meetings will take place across the two day event.



“This is a huge opportunity for us to showcase what tourism is about across our country,” said Carol Dray, Commercial Director for VisitBritain/VisitEngland.


“Tourism is one of the world’s most competitive industries and ExploreGB is a key event for us and an incredibly valuable business tool where we can show the world how competitive our offering is.”


Inbound tourism to the UK is booming, with visitor numbers expected to crash through the 40 million mark for the first time this year. Spending by overseas visitors is forecast to reach £26.9 billion (approx. $AU47billion) in 2018, with Australians playing a leading part in boosting the UK economy.


Some 982,000 Aussies visited last year, putting us 10th in international markets, while our spending reached £1,060million (approx. $AU1.88million), making us the fourth highest spending travellers. The trend shows no signs of slowing down, with Aussie visitation so far this year up 11 per cent to 876,000.


“These numbers represent people from across the globe who come to enjoy what our nation and regions have to offer. We are a very welcoming nation and we are open for business,” added Ms. Dray.


VisitBritain also used the event to showcase its new global marketing campaign ‘I Travel For...’ to boost inbound tourism.


Launched in the Australian market recently, the digital campaign uses short films and images to promote experiences and less-explored destinations, alongside globally renowned landmarks and attractions.


Written by: Jon Underwood
Published: 1 March 2018

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