Tuesday, 18 September 2007 13:17

£1m cash boost for rural tourism

Written by  Ruralcity Media
ImageA £1 million campaign aims to woo tourists back to the countryside in the wake of the summer floods and foot-and-mouth outbreak.

The cash boost was unveiled by culture secretary James Purnell who said he wanted to remind people across the country of the wealth of leisure opportunities on their doorstep. “Britain is open for business,” he added

Some £750,000 will be given to VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, to promote rural destinations and visitor attractions which the government believes are vital to the economic health of local communities.

The package will be supplemented by £250,000 from VisitBritain’s budget. The agency had already been preparing to fund a targeted marketing campaign aimed at promoting the English regions and its B&Bs, caravan parks and attractions.

Tourism is the UK’s fifth largest industry, worth £85 billion to the economy and employing around 2 million people directly and indirectly. Each year, Britons make more than one billion day trips in their own country.

Tom Wright, VisitBritain’s chief executive, said the government’s commitment to additional marketing funds came at an opportune time for England in general and its rural destinations in particular.

“It enables us to implement high profile activities on a larger scale and remind potential visitors of the appeals of a rural escape and that our tourism businesses remain open for business.”

But opposition parties said the money would have little real effect. Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster said the funding should be seen against real-term cuts to VisitBritain's budget.

The Conservatives said the money would do little to tackle the root problems in the British tourist industry. Shadow culture spokesman Jeremy Hunt called for a comprehensive approach to marketing British attractions to Britons.

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