NUFC ‘huge part’ of plan to double region’s tourist economy over next decade

The success of Newcastle United is a huge part of a plan to double the size of the region’s tourism economy over the next decade, according to one of the region’s tourism chiefs.

Ian Thomas, destination director at the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI), spoke to ChronicleLive on the club’s role in boosting the region’s tourism economy ahead of new images of plans for St James’ Park’s Stack Fanzone being revealed on Monday.

The Fanzone consists of bars and street food stalls and is earmarked for the disused car park next to St James’ Metro station – though at the moment, it is just in the planning stage.

However, the fanzone, should it go ahead, is just a small part of what the city’s football club is expected to bring to a plan which would see the tourism economy grow from £5 billion to £10 billion by 2033. This season’s Champions League fixtures against PSG, Dortmund, and AC Milan are expected to provide a £4 million boost alone, but NGI has its sights set on the longer-term.

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Ian said: “Over the next ten years, that would include St James’ Park hopefully hosting the Euros, whatever expansion plans the club have, even just seeing three group games bringing millions into the economy, we will see where it goes from there.”

Though difficult to measure, the tourism sector believes there has been a palpable change in the atmosphere since Newcastle United was taken over and the club’s fortunes on the pitch changed dramatically. Ian said: “You can see it, you can hear it in the city already, you hear different accents and languages being spoken; you can see people taking photos outside next to the statues and just that uptick in interest in the place.

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