Airline's Norwich to Aberdeen route is unlocking the Fine City's tourism potential
They are two easterly cities which, at first glance, do not appear to have much in common.
But something that Norwich and Aberdeen do share is a prominent role in the UK’s oil and gas industry – a link which is now unlocking the Fine City’s tourism potential for Scots.
Despite a downturn in the industry, airline BMI Regional has revealed its Norwich to Aberdeen route, which is well-used by North Sea workers, is its top-performing – outstripping other destinations by up to 38pc.
Tourism bodies are now capitalising on the connection in a bid to encourage Aberdonians to make the 510-mile trek to Norwich, with a drive both on social media and in print to attract Scottish tourists.
It comes as part of wider efforts to target promotion around the airport and its flight destinations.
Melanie Cook, PR manager at Visit Norwich, said: “Since the start of 2016 our work with domestic airlines flying to Norwich has greatly increased.
“This collaborative approach has led to three press trips, including The Scottish Sun, plus requests for information about the city for airport magazine articles, destination pages on websites, one print competition and airlines enewsletters.”
Its Norwich, City of Stories branding, which promotes the city by featuring snapshots of the lives of residents, has been regularly posted to social media in Aberdeen.
And, from anecdotal evidence, Visit Norwich believes there has been a rise in the number of breaks booked by those across the border.
Mrs Cook added: “The plan for 2017 is to continue working with Norwich airport and airlines to run further press trips, print and digital coverage.”
One of the press trips was taken by Kirstie Ross, a journalist at the Aberdeen Evening Express, who sang Norwich’s praises after a whistle-stop trip.
She said: “We absolutely loved Norwich! We’re actually hoping to plan another trip back at some point to see all the things we didn’t have time to see. It really is such a beautiful city.
“Everyone we met was so lovely and you can tell how proud residents are of their city.”
BMI Regional runs up to three daily flights between the cities and has a Flight Pass, which offers regular travellers savings of between 10pc to 40pc.
‘Fantastic opportunities’ for visitors to the Fine City
Having learned his goalkeeping trade in Aberdeen in the early 1980s, it was in 1986 that Bryan Gunn stepped onto Norwich soil for a 12-year turn with the Canaries that earned him a place as a club stalwart.
Speaking before England and Scotland stepped on to the pitch on Friday night, he said Aberdeen and Norwich had plenty in common.
“They both have a huge respect for football and see that as a way of promoting the city,” he said.
“Both are getting more and more stylish restaurants and agriculture remains really important for them.
“There’s a lot of similar history and industry as well.”
He warned visitors from Aberdeen that, if they caught a Norwich taxi, his name was likely to crop up.
“I’ve heard a few times that Scottish people have got into taxis and the driver has said ‘we once had a goalkeeper from there’,” he said.
“I guess it’s nice to be remembered and held in that esteem within the Norfolk taxi driver circles.”
He said there was some “fantastic opportunities” for those after a break in Norwich, recommending a trip to the busy city centre, the castle, nearby Great Yarmouth and the Broads as his top tips.
But, most importantly, he added: “There’s definitely a lot of football fans that will be hoping next year we can say that visitors will be able to see a premier league club in action.”
Norwich vs Aberdeen
How much do the cities have in common?
• Population (greater area)
Norwich: The Fine City
Aberdeen: Granite City
Norwich: In the past, manufacturing, paper making, textile mills. Today, tech, tourism and services. Aberdeen: In the past, fishing, textile mills and paper making. Today, tech, fishing and oil.
• Known for
Norwich: Mustard, Alan Partridge, real ale, medieval history.
Aberdeen: Oil capital of Europe, golf, granite stone, Aberdeen Angus.
Norwich: Norwich City, in the Football League Championship.
Aberdeen: Top division Aberdeen Football Club, in the Scottish Premiership.