Visit Kent has secured substantial Government funding to launch an ambitious project to promote Kent and four other premier UK destinations to the world.
On Friday (26 August 2016) VisitEngland announced the first successful projects who have succeeded in winning the Discover England Fund, a fund set up to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing tourism industry. Visit Kent’s Gardens & Gourmet project was one of seven winners being announced today.
Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE, Chief Executive of Visit Kent said: “We are thrilled that our bid has been successful, and that we have the chance to start celebrating our and our partner regions’ outstanding international gardens, outdoor spaces, and local food and drink offers.
“This bid has been a huge undertaking, and we are delighted to be working with four fantastic regions to develop and market our national treasures to overseas visitors.
“This is a great day and incredibly positive news for tourism.”
Working with the destination teams in Cheshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and the Peak District, Visit Kent submitted an ambitious bid to package each regions’ outstanding gardens and gourmet offer as bookable products, to give international visitors a new high-quality and sensory experience of rural England.
The project was inspired by the fundamental role that both England’s gardens and produce, and the communities that nourish them, have had to play in shaping the nation’s identity.
With this in mind, Visit Kent proposed creating new bookable packages for international visitors that would not only give them entry to key attractions in each region but also feature insider tips, local recommendations and interactive media to give visitors a truly immersive local experience.
Each partner area will develop its own ‘pilot cluster’ of gardens and gourmet experiences, building on existing industry partnerships to include key attractions, recommendations for places to stay and to eat, and personal recommendations and fresh perspectives on each location from locals.
Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE continued: “Kent, The Garden of England, with its outstanding gardens, food and drink, inspires much of England’s identity, whilst our communities give our nation its heart and soul. England has more than 3,600 historic parks and gardens, and delicious local produce, and our goal is to inspire international visitors to go out and explore these regions by arming them with information that only locals would know.
“More than half of holiday visits made to the UK by international visitors involves going to a park or garden. Spend on these inbound visits amounted to £4billion compared with a total of £2.6billion for domestic holidays and day visits.
Lisa Bone, Strategic Tourism Manager at Visit Essex, said: “We are delighted that Visit Essex and our partner regions have been awarded the funding for what I think will be a hugely beneficial and exciting project.
“This will do the all-important job of attracting international visitors to spend time in with us rather than passing through it via its many international gateways, it will also encourage those closer to home to discover the things that are on their doorstep.
“Essex has many wonderful attractions including some remarkable gardens and outdoor spaces, and this will give us the opportunity to promote them whilst changing the perception of Essex. We look forward to working with partners within our own destination but also with other destinations from which I am sure we can learn a lot from.”
Jo Dilley, Managing Director at Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire, said: “This is outstanding news for the Peak District and Derbyshire, and opens the door to a huge new tourism market for us. Our collaborative pitch for funding was exciting and innovative, and this just shows the value of partnership work. Tourism is about forging new relationships, both with visitors and with other businesses, and this project will help us to excel in both.”
Katrina Michel, Chief Executive at Marketing Cheshire, said: “Excellent news for Cheshire, for the region and for the tourism industry as a whole. This project really does aim to inspire people to truly discover England – its big attractions and its hidden gems, and the people that make our communications and our industry great. We are very excited to start work on this project with our partners.”
Head of Partnerships for Visit Herts, David Curtis-Brignell, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with and learn from such a diverse range of destinations. From the lavender fields of Hertfordshire to the award-winning afternoon tea at The Grove Hotel, we want more people to know about the beauty of places beyond London.
VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said the Fund attracted “an exceptional number of high quality bids, far outweighing the allocated funding available for year one”.
“We are pleased to have chosen some excellent winners who we will now be working closely with to build world-class ‘bookable’ tourism products showcasing the best of England to international and domestic visitors. We look forward to continuing the success of the Fund with larger scale bids worth more than £1 million in years two and three.”
For more information about Kent, please visit www.visitkent.co.uk