A new appointment has been made to give a push to the Newcastle Gateshead bid for European Capital of Culture status in 2008.
Mr Hamblin will be working with agencies in the North East
Jeff Hamblin, the former chief executive of the British Tourist Authority, has been appointed tourism adviser to Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, which is behind the North East bid.
He will direct the development of an international tourism strategy for 2008.
Mr Hamblin will be working between London and the North East, and liaising with tourism and other agencies.
The bid team is working with agencies such as the British Tourist Authority, England's North Country, the British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
It also has strong relationships with national and international tour and travel operators, including British Airways, DFDS Seaways, Easyjet, Fjord Line, and GNER.
Regional bodies such as Northumbria Tourist Board and One NorthEast will also be working with Mr Hamblin.
Mr Hamblin has a wealth of tourism experience
He said: "Glasgow's reign as European City of Culture in 1990 transformed the city.
"It kick-started the leisure and business tourism sectors on an unprecedented scale - the same potential exists for Newcastle Gateshead."
Mr Hamblin was born in Newcastle and began his career in tourism with Northumbria Tourist Board in the early 1970s, before moving to head up the East Midlands Tourist Board in 1978.
In 1985 he joined the British Tourist Authority and was named chief executive at the end of 1998.
He was awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours List in 1999 and received a British Hospitality Association Award in 2002 for his services to the tourism and hospitality industry.
A decision on which city is Capital of Culture will be made by the government in spring 2003.