Friday, February 22, 2019

Great Britain & Ireland

Explore GB: Beyond the beaten track
April 2018 1074

VisitBritain hosted ExploreGB, its annual flagship travel trade event to sell Destination Britain to the world, in NewcastleGateshead from March 1 to 2 this year, and TTN was invited. Now in its fourth year, ExploreGB saw 280 international travel buyers from 29 countries doing business with more than 330 tourism suppliers from across the UK at the Metro Radio Arena. Previous destinations to host ExploreGB included Brighton, Liverpool and Ascot.

VisitBritain showcased its new global marketing campaign ‘I Travel For...’ at the annual event. The digital campaign uses short films and images to promote unexpected experiences and less-explored destinations across Britain, alongside its globally renowned and iconic landmarks and attractions. It aligns motivations to travel with experiences that can only be had here, inspiring overseas visitors to ‘Find Your GREAT Britain’ and book a trip right now. It is part of the UK Government’s global GREAT Britain campaign.

Great Britain remains one of the most visited tourism destinations in the world as overseas visits to the UK are forecast to break through the 40 million mark for the first time this year, reaching 41.7 million, up 4.4 per cent over last year. Spending by overseas visitors to the UK is forecast to reach £26.9 billion in 2018, up 6.8 per cent.

Richard Nicolls, head of Research and Forecasting, Visit Britain, shared 2017 projections and 2018 forecast with us. Middle East visitor numbers are still small compared to other markets, but the growth from this market is 14 per cent from Saudi Arabia, 12 per cent from Kuwait and 4 per cent from the UAE.  The Middle East still leads the way in terms of average spend with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain both spending an average of just over £2,300 and Qatar close to £2,000 per visit.  

Beyond London

The regions most visited remain London, with visits up 7 per cent year to date, said Nicolls. The rest of England is up 2 per cent in Q3. Scotland leads the growth in 2017 with 14 per cent. Yorkshire and East Midlands are both down in visitor numbers, but this is compared against a strong 2016. 

Although London will always be an important destination for Great Britain, one of the objectives of a £40- million Discover England Fund announced in 2015, was to get people to travel beyond London. In this vein, London & Partners have joined hands with Marketing Manchester and West Midlands Growth Company to create and promote a new England tourism experience, making it easy for first-time visitors from China, the GCC and India to visit London and then discover the other parts of England too. The new packages will be designed to remove any barriers to multi-destination travel and will include open jaw-ticketing, travel between destinations, seamless baggage transfer and access to local language guides.

TTN was part of an educational familiarisation trip to the north of England from Newcastle to The Peak District and finishing in Manchester. The main focus was on:

• Discover England Fund – creating new world-class bookable products and experiences for England;

• Rail – highlighting the ease, speed and value of traveling around Britain by rail;

• Food and drink – immersive food experiences across London, Devon & Cornwall, Yorkshire and Scotland;

• Luxury – showcasing luxury products and experiences in and around Edinburgh, Manchester and London;

• Regional gateways – illustrating the convenience of Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester’s airports and experiences surrounding the gateway cities (bookable on

England’s North, easily accessible through Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle, not only offers great cities filled with culture and heritage, but also now have become hotspots for their shopping, great restaurants and nightlife. This may well be why this summer, NewcastleGateshead will host, on behalf of Northern England, the biggest event in England this year from June 22 to September 9. The Great Exhibition of the North is free to attend (with the exception of a few ticketed events) and will tell the inspiring story of the north of England and how its innovators, businesses, artists and designers have shaped the region’s present and are inspiring its future. The event is expected to reach an audience of three million people, including more than one million visitors from across the UK and overseas. 



Newcastle is a city on the north bank of the River Tyne and Gateshead is a town on the south bank, and the two are united by seven bridges to become one destination. One of these bridges is the Gateshead Millennum Bridge, the world’s first and only tilting bridge. 

As a university city, Newcastle has a vibrant city centre with a number of cocktail and dining options from street food to fine dining. One of the options is the Botanist, which has a tree right in the middle of the restaurant and antique trinkets hang from walls. There are also a large number of beverages to taste with the help of an expert to guide you through 300 or more brands. Another unique place, is Blackfriars Restaurant and Parlour Bar. An award-winning restaurant and heritage site located in a 13th century friary, once inhabited by the Black Friars of Newcastle.

Not far from the city centre, and accessible via the metro, is the coastline, which stretches for miles giving the feeling of having your own secluded beach. So, the city and the sea can be experienced in a day. The famous Angel Of The North stands 20 metres high and 54 metres wide on the hill in Birtley to overlook the scenic Gateshead landscape. A striking work of public art by Sir Antony Gormley, the statue is admired by over 150,000 visitors a year.

The annual Great North Run which takes place across Newcastle and Gateshead is the largest half Marathon in the world. The Great Exhibition of the North closes with this event on September 9.

Newcastle has a wide choice of accommodation from five-star hotels to hostels. One of these is The Hotel Indigo, a boutique hotel in the heart of Grainger town, only a short walking distance from the main train station, shopping, and the key sights of the city. The hotel also houses a Marco Pierre White restaurant. We were hosted at this property and can vouch for the personal service the team provided.



The Peak District is an upland area in England, with easy access from Manchester Airport. The towns that make up the Peak District are mostly in northern Derbyshire, but also include parts of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and West and South Yorkshire. 

The Peak District offers so much particularly for the outdoor enthusiast from walks on extensive network of public footpaths and numerous long-distance trails, to a more adventurous Pennine Way. But don’t worry, you can cycle or even ride a horse. 

Famed for having the oldest, longest, most complete Roman walls in Britain, Chester is a destination bursting with history. A walking tour of the city follows in the footsteps of Roman soldiers, while also getting up close to the Grade I-listed cathedral, which dates back to 1093. For those with children, there  is Chester Zoo, and those horse race enthusiasts, Chester Race Course, one of England’s Royal race courses. 

A must visit in Chester is Cholmodeley Castle. Although this is a castle, it is the private home of the Cholmondeley family, who have resided at Cholmondeley since Norman times. The first member of the family to take the name was Robert de Cholmondeley; he became the 1st Lord of Cholmondeley in about 1200. However, little is recorded about the actual Cholmondeley houses between 1066 and 1571.



Cholmodeley Castle has undergone an extensive redevelopment of its gardens – the Folly Garden, the Rose Garden, the Laburnum Grove and the beautiful Temple Garden, all aiming for year-round colour. They always update and change the gardens, and with the size of the estate, one can visit many times and find something new. 

Cholmondeley has recently opened its doors for private, bespoke events. As Cholmondeley is a private place, they can be flexible with bespoke visits and events. For example, a private visit for exclusive use of the castle, park and gardens will set you back by £10,000 per day, and includes arrival at Malpas Lodge and welcome at the castle for drinks; introduction to the castle and the history of Cholmondeley and the family; various activities in the grounds – for example, test drives around the private drives with Bentley, off-roading, use of the lake, carriage drive to the chapel, falconry, visit to the Racehorses etc. Lunch and tea will be provided at the castle, and a guide tour of the gardens with the head gardener are included.

With so much to see in The Peak District and Chester, a comfortable base is recommended. There are a number of accommodations offered, but two tried-and-tested recommendations are The New Bath Hotel and Spa and The Carden Park Hotel.

The New Bath Hotel and Spa is a listed hotel that recently completed a major restoration. The property features 54 luxuriously appointed bedrooms and is located conveniently in a quiet, quaint area of Buxton, but with easy access to explore the Peak District. Additionally, the hotel offers a 2,500 sq ft spa with treatments by ESPA, conference facilities complimented with a 140-seater ballroom perfect for an elegant wedding and two dining rooms to choose from.

The Carden Park Hotel is in the heart of Cheshire – a four-star luxury hotel with a AA Rosette-awarded restaurant, two championship golf courses and award-winning spa. It has a wide range of luxurious guestrooms, ideal for leisure and business travellers. It is also a lovely place to stop during your touring for what the English are famous for – afternoon tea.    

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