Hairy Biker Si King on boosting food tourism, his new series and losing weight
PUBLISHED: 01:28 27 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:19 20 February 2013
The Hairy Biker talks about boosting food tourism, his new series and losing weight
The North East is a wonderful and inspirational part of the country but not enough people know that. If we can get the message out there more effectively we can increase the number of people coming here, bring more money into the area, support local businesses and create jobs. Its a virtuous circle but if its going to be made to work we need to get everyone working together.
Some good ideas have been suggested but they can only be effective if there is a serious relationship between all the partners.
When I was locations manager on the Catherine Cookson television dramas I went to a seminar run by the tourist office. It was when they were at the height of their popularity, about 15 or so years ago and there had been an increase in tourism of about 18 or 20 per cent, I said at the end of the seminar that the dramas must have had an impact because they highlighted the areas beauty nationally and internationally. The woman running it said: Well, yes, but wed never admit that.
I wondered why, but its about looking after their interests if they can see that television dramas are doing their job for them it wont reflect well. Those dramas were instrumental in bringing people to the area and showing off the North East to the greatest of its unspoilt beauty, untouched by the hand of the modern world.
If food tourism is going to take off here then all the agencies need to be involved in proper talks. Its about time people got their finger out.
Its a matter of all the resources in the area talking to each other, asking How do we make this work? and sharing all their expertise and what little financial resource they have. We need a proper strategy for the next decade or so thats not going to be affected by political change. It doesnt look to me as though that is happening, but if Im wrong, someone tell me. Im only going on what I see, but there doesnt seem to be any joined up thinking.
The key thing is tourism. One of the main reasons people come to the North East is for the countryside we have wonderful broadleaf woodlands, the best salmon fishing in the country, beautiful wildflower meadows, forests, beaches and a real variety of topography there really is something for everyone. And its about time the rest of the country knew about it. You have to give people a reason to come here instead of going to Cornwall or the Lake District and those areas are well ahead of us in many ways.
We had a truly incredible time filming in America in March. We visited some amazing places and the access we had to musicians was mind-blowing. We went to Memphis and Nashville and met some brilliant people but I cant tell you any more than that just now. Youll have to watch the show.
Since we came back we have been on a nationwide book tour and I must say a big thank you to everyone who turned out at WH Smiths in Darlington, it was truly appreciated.
Dave and I have a lot of fun and we eat a lot of food it comes with the job, I suppose but as a result weve become a bit, well fat. We have tasted wonderful food all over the world but it has taken its toll so now we are trying to lose two stone. A series with us just drinking smoothies and eating salad wouldnt be much fun especially for us so were trying to have a giggle while we do it, but I cant see much difference yet. Ill let you know how I get on.
This month Si will be: Starting filming a new series called Everyday Gourmet about producing good food on a budget, which will be screened in the Autumn. Were all skint but its still possible to eat good food and thats what were aiming to show.