15 Years of Shining the Spotlight on Durham
Michelle Gorman, managing director, and Ivor Stolliday, chairman of Visit County Durham Ltd Board
2020 sees Visit County Durham celebrate 15 years of working in partnership to develop and grow the visitor economy.
In 2019, County Durham welcomed 20.13 million visitors – contributing £955m to the local economy and employing more than 12,000 people. And although the tourism sector was devastated by the pandemic in 2020, these figures serve to underline the significance of the visitor economy to the county’s wider economy, and the importance of the work being done by Visit County Durham – the destination management organisation for the county.
Cited as an exemplar of best practice for a DMO operating within the framework of a local authority, that link ensures the strategic connection between the DMO function and wider regeneration and economic growth functions and strategies, meaning that the visitor economy is knitted into long-term growth plans.
Having celebrated 15 successful years, Visit County Durham’s plans for the next 15 will continue to shine a light very brightly on the county. Having already achieved the objective for the county to fulfil its potential as one of North East England’s lead destinations, the aim is that it will offer a visitor experience that exceeds the best offered by England’s premier county-based destinations.
Visit County Durham’s plans to boost the visitor economy, include:
- Support for the sector via a visitor economy business resilience, productivity, and innovation scheme.
- Partnership between County Durham and the A Coruña province in North Spain to collaborate and promote the pilgrimage routes of the Northern Saints Trails and the English Way section of the Camino de Santiago Compostela.
- Launch of a county-wide conferencing and business tourism website and destination proposition.
And partner product development projects, which include Remaking Beamish; Raby Estates; The Auckland Project; and SeaScapes, will also play a major role.
As the visitor market has started to re-open in 2021, and with feedback from businesses indicating pre-covid, or better, visitor numbers, Visit County Durham is looking ahead with optimism. The county is back on track to achieve a £1 billion-plus visitor economy, creating jobs and opportunities for residents, communities, and Durham businesses.
And by working in partnership, Visit County Durham will continue to develop and grow the visitor economy, benefiting visitors and residents alike.