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NewcastleGateshead has just secured a prestigious international meeting ahead of other major destinations thanks to a partnership between influential regional academics and business leaders and NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau. The Regional Studies Annual International Conference 2011 takes place at Newcastle University in April next year, with over 350 delegates from the UK and overseas expected to descend on the destination, discussing a range of topics from the challenge of climate change to the impact of the global financial crisis. The ‘Conference Ambassador Programme' was instrumental in securing this conference with support from the Convention Bureau - the specialist team tasked with bringing major conferences to the ‘twin cities'. A conference ambassador is a local academic or business professional who has spearheaded a bid to bring a major conference to NewcastleGateshead. Professor Tomaney, Director of The Centre of Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) at Newcastle University, bid for the prestigious meeting, fighting off competition from several leading European destinations. CURDS was recently ranked one of the most influential places in the world for the study of economic geography, second only to UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) in a study conducted in the United States. Prof Tomaney said: "It is a great privilege to host leading thinkers and influencers here in NewcastleGateshead where we have built a real pedigree in this academic field. We aim to bring some of the world's leading policy makers to NewcastleGateshead to share knowledge and best practice and are sure they will be inspired by both the conference and place." Sally Hardy, Chief Executive of the Regional Studies Association, said: "In a fiercely competitive tendering round the NewcastleGateshead bid won through. With our long history of successful collaboration with colleagues from Newcastle University we are delighted to bring our annual international conference to the ‘twin cities'. We are looking forward to an event that challenges thinking in regional studies around the world and which brings together international colleagues in an atmosphere of collegiality and enjoyment." Gill Pilkington, NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau conference development manager, said: "NewcastleGateshead has played host to some major Association-based conferences recently showing a real track record and strength in this area. Without the hard work and expertise of our local ambassadors, this project would not be the success story it is. We are confident the association will be delighted by the destination as it seamlessly blends new, inspiring architecture with great historic sites and boasts a vibrant city centre with a range of top restaurants, cafes and cultural venues." The Regional Studies Annual International Conference 2011 has the support of the Regional Development Agency, One North East, Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University.