Delivering the Discover England Fund

In 2017/18 we entered round two of the Discover England Fund, a three-year £40 million fund to deliver world-class, bookable tourism products to the right customers at the right time.

The Fund supports the growth of one of England’s most successful export industries, inbound tourism, and this year our major focus has been driving forward the set-up and delivery for Years 2 and 3 of the fund, undertaking extensive product development research and providing the new products and experiences with routes to market through our international activity.

Building bookable English products to attract the visitors of the future

Exmoor (c) Nick TurnerTo date, the Fund has supported 56 projects, of which 14 are large-scale (worth between £500,000 - £1.2 million in value). 22 projects were launched this year with 12 receiving funding in excess of £1 million.

To increase the competitiveness of England’s tourism offer, domestically and internationally, and drive tourism growth across the regions of England, every project supported has been created with the purpose of bringing innovative solutions and products to England’s tourism market which appeal to an international audience. Some of the latest products announced include:

  • Experience England - immersive itineraries to help inbound visitors from India, GCC, and China discover life outside London
  • Growing Manchester as an international gateway to the North – helping visitors from the US discover more of the North of England
  • Undiscovered England – targeting visitors from Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and the US, this product will develop off-the-beaten tours and experiences showcasing lesser known parts of England
  • Uncover Cotswolds – creating tours focusing on authentic local experiences, in an easily bookable format for tour operators

Taking action to identify opportunities

The Fund delivery has been underpinned by a robust programme of research and insights to identify the needs and interests of our target markets ­– helping the industry to understand visitors, gaps in the market and the changes in demand.

Some of the studies undertaken to inform the activity of the fund has included:

  • Market opportunity reports for 14 large scale projects to aid project positioning in the early stages of the delivery
  • Research into the international travel trade, concept testing large-scale projects amongst key travel trade partners
  • International market-level analysis for key activities and themes looking at demographics, attitudes towards holidaying in England and market preferences
  • Research on outdoor activities that appeal to visitors from the US, France, Germany, Netherlands and the UK
  • Research on business events looking at motivations and barriers; and delegate expenditure
  • Inbound analysis and future trends including inbound day trip analysis; destination summary reports and identification of future trends

In 2017/18 the Discover England Fund supported 56 projects

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Taking new products to market

Support for projects has been integrated throughout VisitBritain activities, to provide products with routes to international markets.

These include:

  • Initiating six new commercial partnerships with destination management companies over the last 12 months, securing over £600k in partner funds to create a total budget of £134m. So far, the outcome of this particular project has seen:
    • 42 new Discover England Fund itineraries on sale globally
    • Over 65,000 social media impressions
    • The creation of 21 new training programmes, resulting in over 1,000 product suppliers trained to attract international visitors
    • 45 B2B trade press articles written and published
    • 2.7 million readers reached through press coverage
  • Forging connections between projects and international sources such as influencers, travel trade and consumer media
  • Closely aligning wider product development activity with fund projects. For example, we included a number of food-related Discover England Fund projects, such as England’s Seafood Coast, in our partnership work with Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Avanti Destinations on boosting overseas perceptions of British food and drink

A highly productive year for England product development

Discover England FundSince October 2017 fund achievements have included:

  • 56 projects were completed or in delivery between October 2017 and September 2018
  • 76 DMO partners were involved in large-scale projects
  • Launched 22 new products
  • Set up 14 large-scale projects, each with relationship managers
  • Completed six Year 2 pilot projects, with five of them receiving additional “amplification” funding in Year 3
  • Five continuation projects delivered, building on successful Year 1 activity
  • Set up 11 new Year 3 projects
  • Gap-mapping exercise undertaken to identify areas of further opportunity
  • Development of a business support toolkit for projects
  • Engaged DMCs and key partners to take projects to market
  • Created internal and external branding guidelines for staff and partners
The highlights of England's Coast