A CAMPAIGN celebrating the region’s culinary history, heritage and innovation aims to help the North-East hospitality and tourism industry bounce back in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Coming Home is a series of four one-minute films underpinning the region’s reputation as a high-quality food and drink destination not just regionally, but nationally and globally.

The campaign focusses on Tyneside, Durham, Northumberland and Teesside’s unique food and drink offerings and highlights the region’s great produce, iconic landmarks and spirit of innovation, whilst encouraging people from both within and outside the area to show their support.

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The films will be promoted across multiple social media channels and would usually cost tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds.

But community interest company Food and Drink North East (FaDNE), which came up with the initiative with support from Visit County Durham, Gateshead Council, and Newcastle University’s H2020 Strength2Food consortium of EU academic partners, managed to create it for a fraction of the price.

Many partners and board members donated their time and expertise for free; Newcastle University Business School, Gateshead Council and Visit County Durham have committed cash to the campaign and Defra has pledged to promote Coming Home’s message nationally.

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Des Kennedy, a director of FaDNE, said: “The fact that so many people have been willing to come together to help create the Coming Home campaign is a testament not just to how highly-regarded the North East’s food and drink and tourism sectors are, but recognition of the dramatic effect Covid-19 has had with many businesses struggling to see what their future looks like post-pandemic.

“Now, with businesses opening up again after lockdown and potentially at their most vulnerable, we believe the time is right to take a proactive approach to boost these priceless assets.

“Food, hospitality and travel are facing unprecedented challenges, and whilst the Government’s support has been welcome and many businesses and jobs have been saved, with the pandemic set to be with us for the foreseeable future, countless enterprises will undoubtedly again be confronted with difficult times.

“Rather than waiting around for funding to come to us, FaDNE has decided to take a grassroots approach and get on with it.”

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The first film, backed by a new interpretation of Meet Me on the Corner by Lindisfarne, centres on North Shields Fish Quay and follows the zero-emissions journey of one of the region’s most prized natural food resources – langoustines – from the sea to being served at the acclaimed Träkol restaurant, under the Tyne Bridge in Gateshead.

Michelle Gorman, managing director of Visit County Durham, said the distinctiveness of the area’s produce is extremely important to the county’s economy, with visitors spending £353m on food each year.

She said: “Initiatives like Coming Home not only support local producers, but they also encourage people who live here, and those visiting, to sample the best we have to offer.”