Championing tourism is a beautiful balancing act

Taking time to review different strategies during Newcastle University Business School’s Captured programme has proved useful for Northumberland Tourism director Jude Leitch who joined the programme to research the possibility of new revenue streams and different strategic ideas for the organisation.

Jude Leitch

Northumberland Tourism is a not-for-profit company that offers marketing services to partners, reinvesting all revenue generated into tourism development and promotion in the area. Jude, who also has an MA in Management Studies from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, has worked at Northumberland Tourism for seven years, joining the organisation during its transformation from Tourist Board into Destination Management Organisation (DMO) as Marketing Manager in 2010.

Based in Ashington, Northumberland Tourism employs six full time staff and is overseen by a board. Its aim is to champion tourism in the county, with its National Park and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whilst providing quality jobs and protecting the landscapes, culture, and way of life. The North East Rural Growth Network recommended the Captured programme to Jude as a platform to develop new ideas for the organisation.

Jude said:

“Northumberland Tourism is always low on resources and we are a very busy team. We don’t often have the chance to sit back and look strategically at what we are doing. Captured gave us the opportunity to stand back and consider other options.”

Lawrence Inkster, director of project management at consultancy firm Faithful+Gould was assigned as Jude’s mentor for the programme. Newcastle-based Faithful+Gould also work with Northumberland County Council and Lawrence was able to use that experience to suggest new approaches to the way Jude and her team work. He also provided challenge by asking questions from different angles, approaching strategies in alternative ways.

Jude said:

“We were interested in gaining different perspectives so it was useful to spend time running things through with Lawrence. We often do this with the board and management team, but we are usually coming at it from the same experience with shared values and objectives. Lawrence offered fresh opinions.”

 

The tourist industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years, and exists without government funding support for DMOs. Being the second biggest industry in the county, jobs within the sector have grown at a rate of 18% over five years and last year tourism contributed £765 million to the economy. One of the principal challenges facing Northumberland Tourism as an independent company is to generate income.

Jude added:

“One of the key areas for me to explore with Captured was looking at new ways of generating income. We do provide a substantial economic benefit to the county but the resources we have are miniscule. As well as exploring different strategies, the Captured programme has helped me form new business connections. Overall it was very useful.”

Fiona Whitehurst, academic lead for Captured said:

“Captured is a rewarding programme for all concerned. Participants from larger firms have the opportunity to make a real difference to smaller organisations by providing a different perspective and asking challenging questions. It is also valuable for the Business School to explore how we can use our role as an ‘anchor institution’ to make a difference to the regional economy.”

 

For further information visit www.northumberlandtourism.org.uk
Jude can be contacted on Jude.Leitch@northumberlandtourism.co.uk or 01670 794521