Tees Society Forum members believe more events need to be staged to complement the area’s natural assets to help boost the tourism and hospitality industries.
The Forum, which is chaired by Peter Medd, of Cygnet Law, provides leading community figures with a platform to examine key social issues affecting the Tees Valley.
This month’s question was: The Teesside Airshow is set for a spectacular return after a 25 year absence, what would you like to see staged in Tees Valley to attract visitors and why?
Mr Medd, a director of Redcar-based Cygnet Law, said: “Local viewers have been able to play ‘spot the location’ with two recent popular TV drama series, Vera and Inspector George Gently, featuring scenes shot in Teesside.
“Filming in the area, whether for TV or a Hollywood blockbuster, such as Atonement, parts of which were filmed on Redcar beach, stimulates publicity that no amount of money can buy.
“However, while Teesside, and the surrounding areas, boast the most beautiful natural assets, both seashore and countryside, we cannot rely on those alone to attract visitors, both local and from further afield.
“As members of our panel, quite rightly, have pointed out we also need a range of events to complement the stunning locations to boost the economic success of the Tees Valley’s hospitality and tourism sectors.”
Councillor David Walsh, of Redcar & Cleveland Council seat in the local elections, said: “Speaking as someone who can remember Concorde coming to the then Teesside Airport on the show day in 1986, I can only welcome back the airshow.
“But this should only be one part of the drive to get Cleveland (as I still call it) back on the tourist display map of the UK. We should use our natural assets, our geography and our history as the catalyst to get shows on the road. It was not so long ago that Hartlepool welcomed the world’s tall ships to the town’s harbour. Time for a return visit. “
He added: “Above all, it is only a few short years to the 200th anniversary of the opening of the first passenger railway in the entire world in the shape of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. Cleveland, Darlington and the entire North East should now be preparing plans for an international railway regatta.”
Lawrence McAnelly, Chief Executive of the Junction Foundation, a charity which helps vulnerable children, young people and their families, said: “The Tees Valley should be making the most of its spectacular national and industrial assets. Where else do you have the joys of beach, rugged coastline, gateway to the moors and the glistening (at night) vista of the industrial landscape? Look the other way and the dark night sky is illuminated with a million stars. Pretty unique I’d say.
“We know it’s not always Mediterranean in climate and it’s a different kind of beach outing, but whether it’s windsurfing or seal watching our beaches and port offer sites and experiences that perhaps we take for granted. Wasn’t the “works” famously portrayed in Ridley Scott’s Alien, how many millions of people have seen that film?”
He added: “What I would like to see staged is a Celebration or Festival of Teesside bringing out the best of our unique home, people and places.”
David Copland, General Manager – Marketing and Communications at Darlington Building Society, said: “It is, indeed, welcome news that the Teesside Airshow is to return after such a long absence and if Sunderland can stage a successful annual Airshow then there is no reason why Teesside cannot emulate this success.
“I think the challenge should be for every venue owner or manager in the Tees Valley to do a bit of blue sky thinking to come up with ideas to attract visitor numbers. We have many park facilities but are they under-utilised?
“We have two fabulous sports stadiums at the Riverside and the Darlington Stadium, home to Mowden Park Rugby Club. Why not look at hosting pop concerts, boxing matches, and other sports? The facilities are fabulous – we just don’t take advantage of their full potential. And these are just the outdoor facilities – there are many indoor facilities we could make more use of. Is it time to be more pro-active and ambitious?”
Iain Sim, Chief Executive of Coast & Country, one of the largest regeneration and housing companies in the region, said: “The Tees Valley is rich with a heritage and history that our communities are extremely proud of. The Tall Ships came to Hartlepool in 2010 and it was a magnificent spectacle that attracted 970,000 visitors from around the globe.
“It would be fantastic to replicate an event that had such a huge economic impact, over £29,671,531 was generated for the region’s accommodation, leisure, transport, shopping, eating, drinking and entertainment sectors, at an average spend of just over £30 per visitor.
“In order to attract such an event and associated outcomes to Teesside, thinking needs to come from outside our comfort zone. We have the infrastructure and passion; we just need the vision and the direction.”
Martin Shutt, Managing Director of estate agents Parker Stag, said: “The area needs to attract more families with family events. I would like to see more shows and music events as it appears we need to leave the area to see these.”