Further potential for rural tourism

THE government aims to increase the contribution made by rural tourism to the economy, MPs have been told.

Tourism is already a significant contributor to the rural economy and that it had the potential for further growth, said Defra minister Richard Benyon

"The government has therefore announced a £25 million initiative to promote rural tourism and support rural tourism businesses," he said.

The money includes establishing a new £10 million fund for the rural development programme for England, said Mr Benyon.

This would provide funding for the development and improvement of tourism destinations, facilities and products.

Mr Benyon was responding to a parliamentary question from Andrew Stephenson, the Conservative MP for Pendle.

Unnecessary and inappropriate regulations that impede the development of rural tourism should not be introduced, said Mr Stephenson.

This should include an exemption allowing waste from self-catering holiday properties to be classed as domestic rather than commercial.

Mr Benyon said he agreed that inappropriate regulations should not hinder rural tourism, including self-catering accommodation.

But many councils in areas where there was a thriving tourism industry faced huge bills in dealing with the waste that it produced.

Given the principle that the producer pays, the government was considering how to get the balance right, said Mr Benyion.

Self-catering accommodation was one area that DEFRA is considering as an exception, he added.

"We will weigh up the matter and make an announcement shortly."

Labour MP Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd) suggested rural tourism could be promoted by the introduction of more long distance footpaths.

The Wales coastal path – a continual path around the whole coast of Wales – was due to be officially launched in May, said Mr Ruane.

"It will promote rural tourism and has already been flagged up by The New York Times as one of the top places to go in 2012."Mr Ruane asked why a coastal path for England was being left behind.

In response, Mr Benyon said he would be going down to Dorset in the next few days to launch the first section of a similar coastal path around England.

"We are also working on, I believe, five other sites," he added.

"The legislation is extremely complex. I would like it to be much more simple, and I am examining ways of making it simpler so that we can speed things up."



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