Destination Management Planning for Tees Valley

As a relatively new destination, Tees Valley has recently embarked on a destination management planning journey. Emerging from an industrial past and made up of the towns of Darlington, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough and Redcar, it is a place that is bold and ambitious for the future – not afraid to try things out. Nestled between the North York Moors, Northumberland and County Durham, the mighty Tees and North Sea coast unite these places that together make up the Tees Valley. There are beautiful beaches and landscapes, unique art and culture, maritime and industrial heritage and a great local food and drink scene.

During 2021 we helped the Tees Valley Combined Authority develop a new Destination Management Plan for the whole Tees Valley. With a growth target of £100m over the 5 years to 2026, our destination management planning priorities highlighted the potential from sport and activity hubs, culture and events and family experiences. Strengthening existing experiences, improving the towns and a focus on sustainable tourism were identified as other important ways to achieve good growth.

In 2021 we also helped Redcar and Cleveland develop their DMP. A shared narrative for destination marketing, development of activity and adventure, events and animation as well as a focus on towns welcome and the ‘brilliant basics’ were seen as the ways in which the borough could help increase employment by 625 jobs to 2026.

During 2022 we worked on a DMP for Hartlepool (Borough and Waterfront) and in 2023 we have been supporting the Combined Authority on proposals for an application to VisitEngland to become an accredited Local Visitor Economy Partnership.

The DMPs have been instrumental in supporting and guiding the many changes that are underway. The Coatham watersports hub in Redcar is shortly to open – and there are increasing numbers of active events coming to the region with British Rowing hosting the GB Coastal Rowing Trials in summer 2023 and the Tour of Britain visiting in 2022. Hartlepool is hosting the Tall Ships in July 2023 and the re-opening of the Globe Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees has improved the scale and range of culture on offer. Plans for development of the Head of Steam railway museum in Darlington are advancing and over £50m is to be invested in the development of Hartlepool Waterfront.

Even though the physical changes are fascinating to observe as the region transitions from heavy industry to an experience economy, there is one thing that remains unaltered – the friendliness and welcome on offer is part of the DNA of this place and the wonderful people that call it home.

Because we are a relatively new destination we have a fantastic opportunity to create our own image. We are not a conventional tourism destination – we can make a virtue of that for a market that is hungry for new, intriguing, undiscovered places to visit and explore. We are not a destination for everyone – but that’s fine – we know who is likely to ‘get’ us and that’s who we’ll be targeting.