“Are you one of the famous Wighams of Coanwood?”…….is not a question I’ve been asked before, or indeed thought about in much detail until this month.
Although I make my living being peppered with difficult questions this one did catch me slightly off guard.
I was very much ‘off duty’ (although still in Northumberland) at the visitor centre for Hadrian’s Wall on a family trip to one of the UK’s most unique world heritage sites.
This time seven years ago I was sitting at an airport with no job, no responsibilities and a round the world flight ticket burning a hole in my pocket.
The only thought on my mind was which fruit would be going into my Daiquiri and how many countries I could fit into my carefully planned flight schedule.
How times have changed and although I wasn’t getting on a flight this week, my thoughts have been closely focused on tourism and how we use social media to inspire our locals to live like a tourist in their own backyard.
A guest post this week from Rachel Williamson who works in our Morpeth Tourist Informaton Centre (TIC). Rachel is one of our most enthusiastic employees, she’s passionate about Northumberand, is only 21 (just) and loves cheesecake. You’ve seen her in a previous post on the front of our magazine. She tweets here: @r3w
Northumberland is a County filled with sensational scenery, captivating castles and beautiful beaches, all of which us residents occasionally forget about or even take for granted. Aside from the obvious big attractions we have so many hidden gems, so many towns and villages that are steeped with history just waiting to be uncovered.
A guest post this week from @angela_tait, who works in our tourist information centres, but has really embraced social media to help promote what’s on offer. She writes:
Joining the County Councils Tourism Team back in October 2011 I was charged with managing the Tourist Information Centres and developing visitor information.
Immediately I was impressed by the staff I was going to manage, their immense knowledge of the county and their passion for attracting new faces to Northumberland. It’s not just about providing visitor information though, we also support more than 250 local producers, showcasing the finest locally made products from art, photography, jewellery, food, crafts and much more which made me question from day one – how do we tell people about this?
Before the start of this summer season we struck a deal with our biggest tourist attractions to do something to help promote Northumberland as a destination and give something back to local people.
We wanted to create a weekend of free or discounted events that would let our residents access some of the best attractions on their doorsteps and celebrate the fantastic county they live in.
Depending on what you were doing last Sunday you may have noticed two hours of prime time national TV devoted to Northumberland.
Not an advert that we’ve funded I should point out, but the second series of ITVs acclaimed detective drama Vera.
While Brenda Blethin’s geordie accent may have caused a bit of debate, the show has given our area a huge boost providing national and international exposure to that all important tourist pound.
The show has proved a huge stage for us to sell Northumberland as a place, with the production largely filmed in the county as well as other parts of the North East.