Short-break visitors to Northumbria are extending the holiday season much later into the year than usual, according to figures from the tourist board for 1998.
"This may mark the beginning of a new leisure trend," said Bob Pendlebury, chairman of the Northumbria Tourist Board (NTB).
A NTB spokeswoman said that fine autumn weather attracted tourists to Northumbria, which was a popular destination for walkers and heritage lovers, well into October and beyond. The holiday season normally closes towards the end of September.
This helped counteract a difficult year, with overseas visitors deterred by the strong pound and domestic demand weak.
Tourists spent £1.546m in Northumbria during 1998, over £500m more than they did in the previous year.
Day-trippers accounted for £1,067m, or 69% of the spend. Of those staying longer than 24 hours, UK residents spent £340m (or 22% of the total) and made 4.2 million trips.
Overseas visitors to the area spent £139m, or 9% of the total, over 490,000 trips. Scandinavians accounted for nearly one quarter of the foreign tourists, with Germans and Americans also strongly in evidence.
The region is part of the England's North Country consortium (along with the tourist boards for Yorkshire, Cumbria, the North-west, the Isle of Man, plus Manchester Airport) which claims to attract 11% of all visitors to the UK, as much as Scotland and Wales combined.