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Visit County Durham welcomed international travel trade operators to experience the best Durham has to offer in a bid to increase overnight stays from the group travel market.

Visitor numbers and overnight stays across the county are at record levels, with tourism now worth £867million to the county’s economy, with group travel becoming an increasingly important target market for Visit County Durham.

Discover Durham, the group travel brand part of Visit County Durham, arranged the two-day visit in partnership with UKinbound and Eleven Arches. The event was a chance to showcase the county’s award-winning attractions, activities and accommodation suited for group travel.

Michelle Gorman, Managing Director at Visit County Durham, said: “We are delighted to highlight Durham as a group travel destination to high profile, international travel delegates. The initial feedback from both our Discover Durham partners and attendees has been extremely encouraging and we’re looking forward to the positive impact this will have on future group bookings and visitor economy across the county”.

Day one of the visit commenced with a networking lunch at Crook Hall & Gardens with Discover Durham members, a dinner and show round of The Park Head Hotel Bishop Auckland, followed by the open air experience: Kynren: An Epic Tale of England, with overnight accommodation at the Radisson Blu. Day two celebrated the city’s historic past and UNESCO World Heritage status with Blue Badge Guide Jan Williams and a tour of Durham Cathedral and Castle, before their return by LNER rail.

Maggie Bell, owner of Crook Hall & Gardens and Discover Durham partner said: “We were thrilled to host the Discover Durham networking lunch with the international travel trade. It was a privilege to be able to meet operators from all over the world, raise the profile of Durham and share our family home with them”.

The group travel delegates in attendance included: Cashel Travel, Virgin Experience Days, Kuoni, Interopa, Best of Tours, Coaches Etc., Miki Travel Ltd, Scancoming UK, Pinpoint Britain, Yangzi Tours, Angela Shanley Associates and Jac Travel, and feedback has been extremely positive.

Charlie Barrett, Partnership Manager at Virgin Experience Days said: “Durham is a gem in the North of England and my trip was fantastic. The passion from every guide was infectious and Durham has the most fantastic history but an even better future. I would recommend anyone to visit and particularly the Cathedral”.

For more information on the economic impact of tourism in the county, visit www.visitcountydurham.org

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