Durham County Council and A Coruña Provincial Council in northwest Spain have signed a region-to-region tourism collaboration agreement.
Endorsed at a hybrid meeting attended by representatives from both councils, the new alliance includes a collaboration protocol between the two regions, which includes the sharing of best practice in tourism marketing, the promotion and enhancement of the English Way and other pilgrimage routes including the Northern Saints Trails. Also, to share strategies and good practices that result in an increase in the economic impact of tourist activity in the province of A Coruña and in County Durham.
Amy Harhoff, Durham County Council’s corporate director for regeneration, economy and growth, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with A Coruña, in northwest Spain. This is a really exciting opportunity for us to attract more visitors to County Durham and showcase our cultural offer as we bid to become UK City of Culture 2025.
“By working together to promote this pilgrimage route, we can boost the economy and profile of our areas and support our economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”
Antonio Leira A Coruña Provincial Council, Member of Provincial Council for economy, finance, special accounts, personnel, and internal regulations, highlighted “that since 2017 the Coruña Provincial Council has been in close collaboration with Visit County Durham, with the aim of articulating plans for the dissemination and enhancement of the “Camino Ingles” as the only pilgrimage route that has its zero kilometer in the British territory, specifically in Finchale Abbey, in County Durham. Furthermore, this alliance is having a positive impact on tourist activity in both territories.”
The partnership comes as the English Way or Camino Ingles – the walk from Finchale Abbey to Durham Cathedral, and beyond to Escomb Church, south of Bishop Auckland, is officially recognised as part of the Camino Inglés – the English Way. The walk forges connections between County Durham and the Camino routes in continental Europe leading to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. The route was opened in September 2019.
Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “We look forward to working closely with our partners in A Coruña to highlight the rich heritage value of this route. Durham has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries and this partnership will help to preserve the route for centuries to come.
“We have so much to offer in County Durham. Whether people want to visit the historic Finchale Abbey or Durham Cathedral on route, or enjoy the spectacular views of the Weardale Valley, we hope our partnership inspires a lot more people to visit our fantastic county.”
The collaboration protocol will strengthen County Durham and the North East’s position as a destination to make a pilgrimage to in 2021 and beyond, building upon the successful Northern Saints Trails – six historic walking routes, based on ancient pilgrim routes, the trails position North East England as the ‘Christian Crossroads of the British Isles’, and are designed to bring the fascinating stories of the region’s Saints to life.
The trails serve as an introduction to what the region has to offer visitors looking to make their own modern-day pilgrimage, highlighting the North East’s beautiful landscapes, attractions, pubs, restaurants, and accommodation.
Visit County Durham managing director, Michelle Gorman commented, “I’m incredibly proud that County Durham has secured what undoubtedly is a very powerful and mutually beneficial partnership with A Coruña.
“The Camino de Santiago is one of the most recognised pilgrimage routes in the world and to be able to align ourselves with a region that we have so much in common with – especially in respect to pilgrimage and our shared cultural heritage – presents outstanding potential to welcome more visitors and further develop joint tourism opportunities between our destinations.”
The region-to-region partnership will be further strengthened in October when Durham County Council, Visit County Durham and partners will host representatives from A Coruña Provincial Council.
For more information on Camino Inglés please visit https://www.caminodesantiago.gal/en/make-plans/the-ways/english-way
For more information on Northern Saints Trails please visit http://www.northernsaints.com/