A series of high profile events, including a pioneering Foghorn Requiem and months of live music, has helped boost tourism in one North East borough to record levels.
New figures, released to coincide with English Tourism Week (March 29 to April 6), show that South Tyneside attracted more than 140,000 visitors in 2013.
South Tyneside Council is now hoping to build on that success with an even bigger events programme planned for this year.
Councillor Alan Kerr, Deputy Leader for South Tyneside Council, said: “2013 was an amazing year for South Tyneside. Not only did we attract record crowds but many of our events received international recognition, helping us achieve a welcome growth in tourism income.
“In South Tyneside we pride ourselves on offering one of the most substantial programmes of free events in the UK. Over the years this has attracted visitors from across the country and further afield and we’re delighted to be continuing that into 2014, and hopefully beyond.”
Among the many events that helped draw a crowd to South Tyneside in 2013 was the unique Foghorn Requiem, staged in June as a tribute to decommissioned foghorns across the UK.
The event, which featured foghorns on an armada of boats playing a special composed score in time with the foghorn at Souter Lighthouse, attracted 6000 visitors on the day, with an additional 3000 attending an associated art exhibition in the weeks that followed.
South Tyneside Council’s annual South Tyneside Summer Festival also enjoyed a landmark year, with more than 100,000 people attending across its three month run.
This included 20,000 spectators at a parade through South Shields and upwards of 15,000 people at each of the festival’s three outdoor Sunday concerts, which were headlined for 2013 by Liberty X, Toploader and the South and Rick Astley.
A new ticketed concert, SoundWaves 2013, held at the close of the South Tyneside Summer Festival on August Bank Holiday weekend, helped attract a younger audience, with 6000 music lovers enjoying performances by artists including Little Mix and McFly.
South Tyneside Council capped off a bumper year with a new initiative designed to draw tourists to South Tyneside during the festive season.
The inaugural Christmas Wonderland campaign, which included a lantern-led procession through South Shields led by three wise-men on camels, helped attract more than 13,000 people to the borough in December and achieved a record number of 3000 likes and re-tweets on social media
Among the most popular elements of the campaign was a three-day fair at the new £16m Haven Point Leisure Centre, which was launched by the Duke of Cambridge in November, a trio of light switch-ons in South Shields, Jarrow and Hebburn and a chance to visit Santa at a specially erected grotto in the South Shields Museum and Art Gallery.
Among the highlights already being planned for South Tyneside this year is a family fun day to mark the launch of the new £5m Littlehaven Promenade and sea defence scheme as well as hosting The Great North Passion in April, an even bigger South Tyneside Summer Festival from June to the end of September..
For more information, including details on hotels and other accommodation in South Tyneside, visit www.visitsouthtyneside.co.uk, call tourist information on 0191 424 77880191 424 7788, like South Tyneside Events on Facebook or follow STyneside Events on Twitter.