Winter may have the northeast firmly in its grip, but this hasn't stopped one of the region's top tourist destinations from seeking new visitors.
South Tyneside - long recognised throughout the world as Catherine Cookson Country - is preparing to showcase its attractions to a group of influential tour operators from all parts of the country and from abroad.
Organised by the Council, the special business-generating event takes place next weekend (7th - 9th February) when around 30 buyers will descend on South Tyneside to see for themselves some of the best tourist attractions in the Northumbria region. These include Bede's World, Arbeia Roman Fort, Souter Lighthouse, Marsden Bay, the Customs House, St Paul's Church and the popular Barbour Factory Shop. A Catherine Cookson Tour - much in demand by visiting parties - will be high on the itinerary of things not to be missed.
The event is supported by Northumbria Tourist Board and coordinated by regional travel specialists Steve Reed Tourism Ltd. The VIP guests, each with the power to bring many new visitors back to the region, will use the Fountain Lodge Hotel in South Shields as their accommodation base. Tony Duggan, the Council's Head of Cultural and Community Services says: "Tourism is crucial for the regeneration of South Tyneside and this familiarisation weekend will be very good for business. With the bid for the Capital of Culture focusing on the region it presents a unique opportunity to reveal some of the jewels of South Tyneside to new visitors. Thousands of regular visitors already know what a wonderful place South Tyneside is, this trip will allow others to share our secret.
The guests have been invited to see what we have to offer them and our experts will on hand to help them plan their summer itineraries. It is very important to get off the starting blocks quickly where tourism is concerned and our organisers are confident that the VIP party will like what they see, regardless of the weather!"