The Berwick ‘Welcome Visitor’ Project has received a grant of £304,000 from Round 5 of the Coastal Communities Fund sponsored by DHCLG. The Project, which commenced in November 2018, will run over a two year period aims to establish Berwick as a ‘you must go there’ visitor destination, increase visitor footfall, encourage extended visitor stay and extend the current visitor season to ensure that Berwick gains the maximum economic return from tourism and visitor markets. By working actively and in partnership with the local tourism and associated business sectors the project will benefit 49 businesses, generating 19.5 (FTE) new jobs and safeguarding 76 (FTE) jobs.

The project is a portfolio package of mutually supportive measures which will, collectively, help to redefine the town’s visitor offer, promote new visitor product developments, enhance the town’s current events programme and refresh visitor hospitality enabling Berwick to deliver a high quality and memorable visitor experience.

The project will add to and develop the current events and activities programme in Berwick by creating a range of opportunities, events and products, developed by businesses and the local community, in celebration of Berwick’s distinctive heritage, culture and environment. This will be achieved by working with and developing the towns tourism and associated business sectors. The project will promote training, skills development and attainment in the tourism and hospitality sectors and invest in visitor information provision.

The ‘Welcomes Visitor’ package includes:

Fresh Perceptions – The project will establish a Berwick Destination Management Partnership, launch a new destination marketing approach with refreshed visitor information services, targeted advertising and campaigns to drive visitor numbers, footfall and spend to the town within the context of the wider strategic approach to Tourism marketing in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

A refreshed events programme – The project will develop a ‘Destination Events’ programme to extend the visitor season through centrally co-ordinated product development / trials celebrating the town’s character, distinctiveness and location.

Business development initiative – The project will deliver local training and skills attainment to support
business and community enterprises to fully engage with and realise the economic benefits of the refreshed visitor economy.

Wayfinding and Signage – The project will contribute to the delivery of a refreshed and enhance visitor
wayfinding scheme which will re-orientate and improve the way visitors experience the town upon arrival, connecting key tourism sites and the retail heart of the town to public transport hubs including the Railway Station.

2018 QUARTER 3 UPDATE (November to December)

The Project, officially, started on the 12th November 2018 with both the Project Manager and the Project Officer recruited and in post.

The Project staff have worked with local partners to finalise a consultancy ‘Branding Brief’ and to recruit a consultancy to undertake a refreshed ‘Branding’ exercise for Berwick as part of the Projects ‘Fresh Perceptions’ theme. A panel, formed from the Project Steering Group, received nine formal written submissions in response to the advertised ‘Brief’ and, following reviewing and scoring these against selection criteria, invited the most successful bidders to meet with the panel to discuss their approach to the ‘Branding’ exercise.

As a result of this rigorous bidding process Hemingway Design have been appointed to undertake the task and will commence work in early 2019. Over the past two decades Hemingway Design have delivered a number of high profile and award winning affordable new build housing schemes, ‘turned around’ troubled estates, have a string of impactful seaside regeneration projects under their belts and an extensive worldwide knowledge of creative led regeneration, great urban design and architecture. Hemingway Design projects in the North East have included the Dunston Staithes housing project, the Festival of Thrift in Redcar and a branding project in Middlesbrough.

Julien Lake, CEO of Berwick Community Trust and Chair of the ‘Welcome Visitor’ Steering Group said, ‘This branding and image work is key to the success of Berwick establishing itself as a visitor destination. We are delighted to have been able to secure the services of an organisation with the calibre of Hemingway Design. By working with local businesses and the local community the consultants will help to shape the approach to tourism development to ensure Berwick realises the economic benefits of tourism and the visitor economy’.

The Project has allocated its capital funding, £10,000, towards the delivery of the first phase of the Wayfinding & Signage Scheme. The Scheme will be managed by Berwick Town Council with funding from the ‘Welcome Visitor’ Project, LNER and both the Town and County Council’s.

The Project staff have been developing range of other measures which will deliver against the Project themes including the development of a Destination Events programme, hospitality training to support visitor serving businesses and training and skills to support new entrants to the tourism sector.