A MARKETING agency geared at making the North-East a prime tourist and conference attraction has unveiled a new brand.

Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI) has launched 2005 Alive, the banner under which events will be hosted.

A year of festivals and events is planned as the next phase of the region's culture10 programmes gets under way throughout the North-East.

Full details of the £12m programme will be announced at the new Performance Academy, at Newcastle College on February 3.

A 2005 Alive marketing campaign, expected to reach more than 20m people in the UK alone, will see see banners, posters and media campaigns across the region and beyond.

NGI will also promote the region in Spain, Ireland, Germany, Norway and Denmark.

Culture 10 acting creative director Keith Merrin said: "2005 Alive really reflects what the culture 10 programme is all about - world-class regional events which engage local communities, encourage participation and have a positive economic impact on the region.

"The North-East has a strong tradition in areas such as music and visual arts and 2005 Alive will help to strengthen this tradition and raise awareness of these strengths on a national level."

One NorthEast chief executive Alan Clarke said: "The scope of the campaign, which will take in events ranging from the Stockton Riverside Festival to the Great North Run, means the entire region will benefit from the increased marketing activity and give tourists a real reason to stay longer and explore more widely in the region."