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Thu 11 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Best of British

MIME ventures to Britain, home of the 2012 Olympic Games, to uncover the jewels in its meetings and incentives crown.

MIME ventures to Britain, home of the 2012 Olympic Games, to uncover the jewels in its meetings and incentives crown.

Two cities in one

As one of the UK's newest business-travel destinations, North East England is emerging as a meetings and conference hub.

Conference interest in the region was boosted last year with the launch of a daily direct Emirates flight from Dubai to Newcastle, which exceeded passenger number predictions.

The twin cities of Newcastle, located on the north bank of the River Tyne and Gateshead, on the south bank, together form NewcastleGateshead.

NewcastleGateshead has an established infrastructure and a fantastic range of conference venues, including The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, The Sage Gateshead and The National Glass Centre.

The city is also home to Hadrian's Wall and the Angel of the North, Britain's largest sculpture.

With excellent transport links and outstanding value for money, NewcastleGateshead should be on every planner's hot list for 2009.

A wee Northern treasure

Scotland is set to be a memorable New Year incentive and event destination, with more than 100 festivals and events planned for 2009.

The Scottish Homecoming centres on the 250th birthday of national poet Robert Burns and embraces Scottish music, culture, innovation, golf and whisky.

A good time to visit is designated Whisky Month; May. Why not book a three-day whisky course in Fife or a trip further north to the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, where you can visit the largest concentration of distilleries in Scotland.

In addition to the sell-out Islay annual Malt and Music Festival; Taste the Dram(a), located in the grounds of Inverary Castle, is a weekend-long celebration of culture and heritage. The celebrations include a tour of the distilleries that dominate the rugged West Coast of Scotland. A Whisky Galore Festival in September concludes the drink-related events.

Golf is a favourite corporate incentive and Scotland provides a host of activities. The Open Golf Championship is scheduled for July, to be held in Turnberry (www.opengolf.com) and Rozelle House hosts ‘A Whole in One' golf exhibition from June 1 to August 31.

There's also the opportunity for delegates to try out one of Scotland's 500 golf courses during the Drive it Home initiative, which has been devised to encourage international tourists onto the golf course and will offer a free four-ball at courses throughout the year. If there's room left on the itinerary discover the origins of the game at the British Golf Museum.

For a full list of events and activities and to register for programme updates visit www.homecomingscotland2009.com

Unique conference and event venuesThe Custard Factory, Birmingham

Max capacity: 250 (theatre), www.custardfactory.co.uk

ManchesterUnited Football Club

Max Capacity: 1000 (theatre), www.manutd.com

The Oceanarium, Bournemouth

Max capacity: 60 (theatre), www.oceanarium.co.uk

EdenProject, Cornwall

Max capacity: 200 (theatre), www.edenproject.com/

WarwickCastle

Max capacity: 70 (theatre), www.warwick-castle.co.uk

Fast facts

• The average five-star day delegate rate in NewcastleGateshead is up to US $72 cheaper than the equivalent in London, according to NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau

• Emirates operates direct daily flights from Dubai to Newcastle

• Newcastle International Airport is just 22 minutes from the city centre by Metro

• NewcastleGateshead is just three hours from London and one and a half hours from Leeds and Edinburgh by rail

10 reasons to meet in Britain

1. Make life easy; according to the World Bank it's easier to do business in Britain than any other European country

2. 193 languages are spoken in London alone

3. Britain is one of the most accessible destinations in the world, with 90 airlines based at London Heathrow Airport

4. There are more than 7000 conference venues across the country

5. Up to 27 world heritage sites across the UK give delegates a real taste of culture

6. According to VisitBritain the country boasts as many as 14 of the world's top 50 restaurants

7. Britain has the third highest number of the world's largest companies

8. Choose from more than 2000 golf courses for the ideal delegate incentive

9. The UK has an excellent transport network, with the London Tube being the world's first underground railway

10. More than 32 million people visited Britain last year

Key contacts for plannersBritish Consulates:+44 (0)207 008 1500

British Embassy:www.britishembassy.gov.uk

Customs and Excise:+44(0)845 010 9000

Conference Guernsey:+44 (0)148 1 234 567, www.guernseytrademedia.com/meetguernsey

Isle of Man Department of Tourism:+44 (0)162 468 6801 www.gov.im.tourism

JerseyConference Bureau:+44 (0)153 444 8855, www.jerseyconferences.co.uk

Meet England:+44(0)208 8846 9000, www.tourismtrade.org.uk/meetengland

Northern IrelandTourist Board:+44 (0)289 023 122, www.discovernorthernireland.com

VisitBritain:+44 (0)208 563 3256, visitbritain.com/business

VisitLondon:+44(0)207 2345833/68, www.visitlondon.com/business

VisitScotland:+44 (0)131 343 1608, www.conventionscotland.com

VisitWales:+44(0)292 047 5202, www.meetings.visitwales.com

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