Farm Stay puts £3.5bn into rural economy

FARMHOUSE bed and breakfast businesses have helped generate £3.5bn for the rural economy, says a report.

The B&B sector is a major contributor to rural incomes on many farms, according to the study on behalf of accommodation body Farm Stay UK.

Over the past 30 years, £3.5bn has been added to the rural economy as a result of guests staying on farm locations through Farm Stay UK, it says.

Farm Stay UK's 1000 members have grown the farm accommodation sector through ingenuity, investment and innovation during the past three decades, says the document.

As well as traditional B&Bs, accommodation includes shepherd's huts, eco-lodges, woodland hideaways, hay-bale houses and imaginative conversions of redundant farm buildings.

The group's 30th anniversary celebrations began a Kent Farmhouse Breakfast event attended by James Berresford, chief executive of national tourism body VisitEngland.

Also in attendance was Farm Stay UK chief executive Andy Woodward, local chefs, food producers, representatives of Visit Kent and members of Farm Stay UK.

Mr Wood said: "Thirty years ago, when we launched as the Farm Holiday Bureau with the help of Farmers Weekly, we could have only dreamed of becoming the organisation we are today."

A new website has received 450,000 visitors -- described by Mr Woodward as potentially 450,000 pairs of feet through farm gates, each visitor helping to put money back into the rural economy.

More and more of our members are looking ahead to offer unique experiences, putting them in a much better position to not simply survive, but flourish."

The website allows people to search hundreds of properties for country breaks, short trips, rural retreats, business trips or longer stays on a farm in the UK.



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