Friday 25 October 2013

VisitBritain stages Tyne-Wear derby of a different kind

Sunderland's Seb Larsson and Newcastle's Steven Taylor give their top local tourist tips

  • Fans in the area are being asked to show their allegiance before Sunday's match

  • VisitBritain have staged their own Tyne-Wear derby with tourist spots like Hadrian's Wall

  • Durham Cathedral is another popular place with visitors to the region

  • Sunderland midfielder Seb Larsson was asked to pick his top five local tourist attractions

  • The Angel of the North was a place chosen on the other side of the argument

  • Newcastle defender Steven Taylor chose his favourite local places to visit

While Barclays Premier League fans in the North-East are relishing the season's first Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday, one battle for supremacy in the area has already taken place between one player from each of Sunderland and Newcastle United.

"When tourists come to experience the most exciting league in the world in person it presents us with an opportunity to show what more our country has to offer as a great tourist destination"
Helen Grant, Minister for Sport and Tourism

VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, has pitted Black Cats midfielder Seb Larsson against defender Steven Taylor of the Magpies to try to attract as many international visitors as possible to attractions in their local areas.

Joss Croft, VisitBritain's Marketing Director, said: "The Premier League has a huge following across the world and the impending North-East derby will see domestic and overseas visitors congregate en masse for what promises to be an enthralling encounter.

"We know that these two teams and the North East in particular are popular across Scandinavia, so expect to meet and welcome as many fans as possible."

Helen Grant, Minister for Sport and Tourism, said: "The Barclays Premier League is one of this country's most successful exports and known the world over.

"When tourists come to experience the most exciting league in the world in person it presents us with an opportunity to show what more our country has to offer as a great tourist destination.

"The North-East derby is one of the most passionate games in the footballing season in England and Seb and Steven have done a fine job in picking out some top tourist attractions across the region."

Here are the players' favourite five tourist hotspots:

Seb Larsson (Sunderland):

1 - Hadrian's Wall is on Sunderland's doorstep and it's a fascinating area to visit, with countryside walks, galleries and museums along the way.

"I love to enjoy the great outdoors with my family. Penshaw Monument is iconic in this region."                  Seb Larsson

2 - You can't beat a day out along the coast during the summer in Britain. I'm lucky because Sunderland has a great stretch of sandy beach, which not many cities do, plus other great coastal places like Holy Island are close by and great to explore.

3 - I love to enjoy the great outdoors with my family. Penshaw Monument is iconic in this region, standing on a hill in the middle of the Great North Forest. It's great to climb up to see the views on a clear day. Further afield there are some great walking trails at Northumberland National Park.

4 - Durham is just 30 minutes from Sunderland and Durham Cathedral is a spectacular Norman building - well worth a visit.

5 - I enjoy taking visiting family and friends to the National Glass Centre - the only UK centre celebrating the history of glass making in the UK, which started in the 7th century in Sunderland.

Steven Taylor (Newcastle United):

1 - Alnwick Castle is the 900-year-old home of the Duke of Northumblerland. This spectacular castle is situated on the banks of the River Aln and features as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. You can even have a go at riding a broomstick!

"The BALTIC Gallery is an incredible contemporary art gallery and well worth a look around."                 Steven Taylor

2 - The Angel of the North is one of the most iconic statues in the UK. It's easy to get to and there are plenty of chances to take fantastic photographs from the surrounding areas.

3 - The BALTIC Gallery is an incredible contemporary art gallery on the banks of the River Tyne in Gateshead and well worth a look around.

4 - Berwick-upon-Tweed is a fantastic place to visit, not too far from Newcastle. The dramatic walled town is home to The Lowry Trail, which is a great way to discover some of the town's hidden gems.

5 - For any visitor to Newcastle, I'd recommend stopping off at the Crown Posada Pub, one of Newcastle's oldest pubs, for a pint of traditional British ale.

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Key Points

  • Sunderland's Seb Larsson and Newcastle's Steven Taylor go head-to-head with their top tourist tips for their local areas
  • National tourism agency VisitBritain want football fans visiting the area for the Tyne-Wear derby to take time to visit local attractions
  • Sunderland host Newcastle in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday with a 1.30pm GMT kick-off