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The South West Coast Path is set to see visits grow from overseas tourists

The Rumps, near Polzeath, Cornwall, photographed by Peter Edwards

England has seen record tourism spend in the past year from both domestic and international visitors. The number of domestic overnight trips taken in England grew by 11% in 2015 while visits from overseas tourists have shown strong regional growth in the South West of an extra 6%.

To capitalise on this growing trend of inbound tourism, the South West Coast Path Association, has successfully applied to the Discover England Fund which aims to support the growth of this export industry. Tourism delivers jobs and economic growth across England, generating £106 billion a year and employing over 2 million people, with a strong domestic market. The project is called, Discover England’s South West Coast Path, to be delivered by a number of partners; Visit Cornwall, South West Tourism Alliance, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Visit Devon, Visit Dorset, and Exmoor National Park. The funding is being distributed by Visit England, who is responsible for marketing and developing England’s tourism.

Visit England 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.”

Research has shown that the most sought after information on the Visit England web site is about the countryside of the South West, with finding out about history and heritage close behind.  The most popular way of exploring the countryside is on foot, with 83% of visitors to Cornwall undertaking a short walk during their visit.

The South West Coast Path Association will address this demand by improving the ease of access to a holiday exploring the coast of the South West.  It will achieve this through the creation of a range of 3, 5 and 7 day, mix and match visitor itineraries that will provide an easy click through method for people to purchase what they need.

The project will be supported with new digital resources, promotion on regional tourism and Visit England web sites as well as a public relations campaign, attendance at trade shows and online/social media advertising. Altogether this will showcase a world class walking experience with high quality places to eat, sleep, drink, and unique activities to do along the way at a pace this suits each visitor.

Esther Pearson, Director, South West Coast Path Association says: “The Coast Path is the region’s most popular tourist attraction. This range of new speciality materials will help visitors to plan and enjoy their holiday in this beautiful part of the world.”

The South West Coast Path is a world class destination; it was listed as one of the World’s greatest walks by Lonely Planet in 2009 and was the only UK walk to feature in their 2012 Book of Great Adventures.  Twice running it has been voted Britain’s Best Walk by the readers of Walk Magazine.  More recently it was listed by CNN Travel Guide as one of the world’s most awe-inspiring long distance hikes.

The holidays will feature active, historical and cultural breaks, including those at locations of the World Heritage sites in Dorset and East Devon and West Cornwall. There will be particular themes such as film and TV, local cuisine and a celebration of the region’s literary and artistic wealth. Target markets are Germany and the Netherlands, as well as other international tourists and domestic visitors. This project will aim to reduce the seasonality of visits.

For further details of how businesses can get involved in this exciting project and join the South West Coast Path Association please visit www.southwestcoasthpath.org.uk/DEF

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Published on: Aug. 26, 2016