Rural tourism 'worth more than farming'

TOURISM generates more revenue and provides more employment for the rural sector than farming, delegates at a recent seminar were told.

John Hoy, head of rural at consultants Bidwells, was speaking at the firm's latest event, which was themed around the wealth of diversification opportunities available to the rural sector.

Whether it is glamping, holiday lets, sporting events, filming, wedding venues, concerts or even hosting festivals, the tourism sector offers an array of profitable opportunities, he said.

And tourism is set to play an even more important role in the rural sector in a post-Brexit environment especially if it is incorporated into any replacement scheme for CAP.

Mr Hoy said: "The value of tourism for the rural sector is very poorly understood.

"If we look for example at the numbers around tourism and agriculture there are 365m trips to rural destinations each year, generating £18.6bn for the rural economy and providing 340,000 full-time jobs.

"So tourism actually generates more revenue and provides more employment for the rural sector than farming, which might surprise many who work in this industry.

"It is therefore really important that the linkages between farming, the environment and our unique landscape is recognised in how the CAP is reformed going forward."

Mr Hoy was the chief executive of Blenheim Palace for 14 years, before he joined Bidwells in January.

During the presentation, he talked through the potential key areas that must be addressed in order to ensure that the tourism industry continues to thrive post-Brexit.

These include reinstating tourism planning guidance, developing a skilled workforce, reducing red tape and improving public transport.

The rural industry must look at innovative new ways to generate income in a post-Brexit environment – and the returns could be very rewarding, said Mr Hoy.

Britain's events industry alone is worth over £41bn to the economy through direct visitor spend, he told the audience.

Mr Hoy also gave guidance on some of the do's and don'ts when hosting events and highlighted the additional incomes which they can provide.

"There are huge opportunities in all of these areas and the rural sector needs to look creatively in the post-Brexit market that we are in," he said.

"It needs to be more entrepreneurial, find other things to do and discover just what opportunities are out there."


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