Visit Northumberland Conference 2024
Linden Hall Hotel, Longhorsley, NE65 8XF
Tuesday 30th January 2024
Theme: Responsible Tourism | Creating a Canny Destination
Visit Northumberland was thrilled to welcome around 150 partners to its ‘Canny Conference’ at Macdonald Linden Hall Country and Golf Club yesterday (30 Jan). Kicking things off with a Q&A with the fantastic Si King, who launched the Northumberland Canny Visitor Pledge, he made quite the introduction and it was a pleasure to have him back following his first appearance at Visit Northumberland’s conference in 2022.
‘Canny’ was the theme of the day and ran throughout our key speakers’ talks and Q&A panel sessions. Touching on important topics such as sustainability, accessibility, marketing and promotion, our speakers provided informative and thought-provoking conversation as well as invaluable tips to take home.
A huge thank you to everyone who attended, all of our speakers and presenters, Linden Hall for the beautiful venue and our amazing exhibitors A-Ha Distribution, North East Screen, Northumberland Small Business Service, Squidgy and Stroodles.
Starting at a national and regional level, we heard from Lyndsey Turner-Swift, Visit England Deputy Director, and Ian Thomas, Destination Director at NGI, who discussed key priorities and focus for 2024, opportunities for businesses and the Destination Development Partnership (DDP) achievements and future plans. We then heard from two Northumberland representatives, Maria Antoniou, Senior Economic Development Manager at Northumberland County Council, and Maureen McAllister, Director of Visitor Economy at Visit Northumberland, who shared insight into the new regional landscape and Visit Northumberland’s achievements.
Creating a canny welcome for everybody
Jane Cooper, Managing Director at Access & Inclusion UK, led an engaging session around accessibility before joining Andy Robson, Founder and Agency Director at Squidgy, and Karen Larkin, Visitor Services Manager at Bamburgh Castle. They discussed “quick wins” for businesses, website accessibility and overcoming venue limitations.
Canny contributions that make a big difference
Rachel McCaffery, Sustainability Lead at VisitEngland, presented on sustainability, looking at ways businesses can contribute to national sustainability objectives. Joined by Duncan Wise, Visitor Development and Tourism Officer at Northumberland National Park Authority, and Harvest & Dave Harris-Jones, owners of sustainable self-catering accommodation Laverock Law, they offered invaluable tips and insight into Northumberland’s progress and first-hand experience at running a sustainable business.
Coming up with a canny marketing strategy
Jo Macleod, Marketing and Communications Manager at North East Screen, joined us to share her expertise on screen tourism, followed by introductions from Sonya Galloway, Communications Manager at The Vindolanda Trust, Donna Knowles, Founder of Coastal Custodian and Wim Stevenson, owner of Trees at Tughall. Key takeaways were the benefits of Northumberland featuring on-screen, the importance of consistency when creating a brand, and how to get started on social media as a beginner.