Discover England Fund Pilot Projects

Find out more about the pilot projects that were funded by the Discover England Fund in Years 1 and 2.

Year 1 - Awarded projects

The first phase of successful applicants to receive year one funding from the Discover England Fund were announced in Autumn 2016. Activities and outputs have been delivered by 31 March 2017.

Targeting visitors from a wide range of international markets, including established markets such as the US, Germany, France and the Netherlands, as well as growth markets such as China and the Middle East, these projects collectively covered the length and breadth of the regions of England. They also demonstrated partnership working across a range of tourism businesses, destinations, transport providers, cultural, historic and coastal organisations, as well as the wider private sector. 

1. Golf Tourism England

Golf Tourism England Limited worked with a range of stakeholders to develop an online platform that brings together England’s golf-related businesses for the Asia, Europe and North America markets. This initiative capitalises on the untapped potential of England’s golf tourism sector and responds to demand from international tour operators who are keen to have better access England’s wide-range of golf experiences.

2. Telling the Stories of England: Developing Cultural Tourism Products across England for the US Alumni and Affinity Tours

Led by the tour operator, UK Countryside Tours (UKCT), this bid saw the creation of geographic and thematic historical, cultural and countryside tours for the US alumni and affinity (special interest) markets. To develop these tours across England, they worked in partnership with two larger travel companies, as well as with cultural and historic specialists in, for example, Medieval or Georgian England, natural history or art. 

3. Gardens and Gourmet

Visit Kent worked with the destination teams in Cheshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and the Peak District, to package each region's outstanding gardens and gourmet offer as bookable products, to give international visitors a new high-quality and sensory experience of rural England.

4. South West Coast Path – Amazing Experiences and Making Memories

A whole range of bookable experiences have been brought together using new technology along the South West Coast Path, including scenery, activities, places to eat and accommodation, for German and Dutch visitors who want to explore on foot. The South West Coast Path Association, will work in collaboration with destination management organisations in the South West to develop and market this online product.

5. England’s Seafood Coast

Inspired by local chef Mitch Tonks and his celebration of local seafood, this bid from the English Riviera Tourism Company saw them working with DEFRA and local partners to transform the Riviera’s status as an international seafood destination in Western Europe as well as to scope the development of a new national product England’s Seafood Coast to attract international visitors.

6. Incentive England

To grow the volume and value of the incentive travel market in England from China, North America and the Middle East, Leopold Marketing developed all-encompassing incentive itineraries, coach tourism businesses on how to service this valuable sector and engage not only with UK-based Destination Management Companies (DMCs) but also incentive houses overseas which raised awareness and encouraged bookings. All products featured on a cloud-based product database.

7. Self-guided activity app

Compass Holidays’ current mobile app uses a mapping system to guide tourists. This project enabled them to upgrade their product to provide visitors with rich content on the local area and enable them to make bookings easily – and without a data connection. The upgrade was trialled for Cornwall and the Cotswolds initially and local businesses will have free listings/interactive features, driving footfall to attractions, towns and public transport routes.

8. The Great West Way

The Great West Way paved the way for the creation of England’s first globally recognised long-distance touring route this project, led by VisitWiltshire and involving destinations and businesses along a 125 mile route between London and Bristol, which defined the best approach for developing, branding and marketing the route and created and rolled out bookable itineraries.

9. Growing Manchester as an International Gateway

Recognising a gap in the market for a North of England sightseeing programme, Marketing Manchester’s bid took the first step towards delivering a set of leisure excursions and business extender trips for international visitors flying into Manchester. The project  developed a city sightseeing itinerary and identified the ways for Manchester to act as an international gateway to Northern England

10. Town and Country

This project saw SuperBreak take its strong domestic product to the Australian and US markets. Using regional ports of entry as well as London the customer was able to create and book holidays in England’s regions that incorporate accommodation and transport. Multi-currency functionality to make online booking easier for international visitors was a key innovation in this project. 

11. Growing new audiences for England’s Heritage Product

Using technology to bring heritage to life this project developed new content to increase the appeal of England’s heritage with the under-35s in the US. Twelve iconic heritage sites and experiences, one in each of England’s Heritage Cities, was interpreted using techniques such as augmented reality. This new content was turned into a set of tools for the travel trade helping them to sell and showcase the breadth and quality of England’s heritage.

12. Discovering the mighty rivers and majestic canals of England

Targeting visitors from Germany and Scandinavia, Marketing Birmingham together with industry and destination partners in the Midlands, developed two itineraries along a stretch of waterway known as the Warwickshire Ring. Testing the appeal of canal-based holidays with international visitors, the project developed a set of mini-excursions that can be undertaken along the routes and work with operators to streamline a solution for those wishing to offer point-to-point itineraries. A new digital guide made the trip easy to do.

13. Brit Xplorer

Visitors from near European markets and further afield were able to purchase multi-day coach travel passes before they travel to England. National Express UK Coach worked in partnership with key destination management organisations across England to encourage visitors to explore England using one, two or four-week downloadable passes which were be available in the relevant language.

14. BritRail England Pass M-Ticket

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), with technical support from its international licensee Trainline, fast-tracked the migration of their BritRail England pass to a m-ticket (mobile) enabling visitors to purchase the England pass online right up to the day of departure and paving the way for and expansion of the BritRail retail network.

15. Britain Fix(-ed): STA Travel

STA Travel developed an exciting range of bite-size, easy-to-digest packages suited to the international youth market. The packages were designed to address the lack of regional accessibility and to improve visitor circulation across England. The packages were provided and promoted to the international market via traditional and digital platforms. They were trialled with STA Travel’s extensive customer base.

16. London and Manchester: Gateways to England

Collaborating with Marketing Manchester, this project from London & Partners saw open-jaw ticketing (flying into one destination and out of another) become an attractive option for international visitors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The project developed two-centre holiday packages and address intercity travel to increase awareness and enhance the appeal of travelling beyond London and experiencing one of England’s great northern cities.

17. Passport to the Coast

Using The Netherlands as a test market, the National Coastal Tourism Academy engaged tourism businesses along the coastline of the East of England between Hull and Harwich to produce thematic itineraries to inspire visitors to choose the coast. A new coastal pass and video based technology provided a fresh perspective for visitors to build their trips.

18. The last mile by e-car

Tackling the issue of how to see some of England’s best rural product in an eco-friendly way, e-car club placed electric car club vehicles at convenient locations so that international visitors could combine public transport and car travel to explore England’s glorious countryside. Focusing on Oxford and the Cotswolds this pilot increased the awareness of the new service with tourism businesses and promoted it to consumers.

19. Cultural England from Hull to Liverpool

Taking advantage of its 2017 status as the UK City of Culture, Hull led on a project that highlighted the cultural offer of northern England with an itinerary that can be accessed by German and Dutch visitors travelling with P&O Ferries. The itinerary developed Hull as an international gateway, tested the appeal of cultural experiences in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and scoped the introduction of a Transpennine Cultural Rover rail ticket.

20. The Friendly Invasion

During the Second World War, 180,000 US airmen were based in East Anglia.  Visitors from the United States are very interested in the lives and experiences of their compatriots’ time in the region and this project will make treading in their footsteps a more simple and appealing proposition. Packaging up a range of experiences that includes the essence of England combined with themed events and tours of the airbases themselves, this new product was promoted to US consumers through the well-established memorial societies who are devoted to keeping the history of the Americans in England alive.

Year 2 - Awarded projects 

A small number of new pilot projects up to £500K were awarded and delivered in year two. These test and trialled approaches to product development, built knowledge and generated good practice which were shared across the tourism industry. These were:

An old fashioned ship with riggingConnections, led by Destination Plymouth 

The Connections project produced a series of new, immersive, bookable English-themed visitor experiences specifically for the American market, encouraging visitors to explore England beyond London. Based on market testing and insights, product was developed around themes with significant appeal to US visitors, such as Magna Carta and the rule of law, the  Mayflower, Virginia and early American colonisation, WW2, US military and the ‘special relationship’. The project also showcased the best of England’s culture and heritage through the development of a broad range of guided touring experiences that were sold in the US via tour operators and travel agents.

a scientific jet plane on display in a museumBrilliant Science led by Marketing Cheshire 

This project extended the visits of delegates attending scientific conferences in Manchester with regional science tours. Thematic itineraries and packages were designed to suit different interests such as engineering, life science and science heritage, and for delegates with varied needs such as single delegates or those travelling with families. These were sold through universities and associations.


A row of faces created by an artistCulture Coasting, led by Visit Kent

Culture Coasting, which was also National Lottery match-funded by the Arts Council England through the Cultural Destinations Programme, targeted visitors from Northern France and the Netherlands with bookable art trails along the South East coast of England, celebrating established galleries as well as the unique art of the surrounding communities. The itineraries included visits to famous galleries, artists’ talks, studio tours, unique accommodation, special events and art classes, as well as a brand new ‘treasure hunt’ of specially commissioned art using geocaching.

A man in Shakespeare costume entertaining visitorsCreating England’s Literary Legends, led by Visit Nottinghamshire

This project targeted the US travel trade with literary-themed bookable itineraries based in three locations, Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and Shakespeare’s England and will work with appropriate local attractions such as Newstead Abbey and the Jane Austen House Museum. In addition, the US travel trade press were invited to attend familiarisation trips to sample the itineraries and the resulting feedback was shared with other destinations with a literary tourism offer.


a busy town center with a fountain in the center in front of an old sandy brick buildingAdrenaline Fuelled City Breaks led by Marketing Sheffield

Tapping into the emerging market for adrenaline breaks, this project used the ease of access to Sheffield from Northern Europe (by air, car, ferry or train) to target young active explorers from Germany, the Netherlands, and the Nordics.  ‘Adrenaline fuelled city breaks’ allowed visitors to book accommodation, food and drink options, night-life choices and adventure sports activities based on their personal preferences for breaks of up to three nights.


The following projects were awarded up to £250,000 (and were 20% match-funded). These are:

a crowd watch a parade of houses and carriages at Ascot RacecourseRoyal Racecourses – The Sport of Kings

Cheshire West and Chester Council created experience-led itineraries for visitors from China and the Middle East, incorporating world-famous race-courses (Ascot, Newmarket, York and Chester) with luxury accommodation offers, in heritage locations.


Young people jumping on top of a cliff with the background of the seaContiki, the youth travel company

Contiki developed new packages for 18-35 year olds targeting visitors from Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, South Africa and USA. These included iconic landmarks, heritage locations and accommodation.


Chef's hands preparing breakfastCreating English City Food Hubs

Destination Bristol trialled an urban ‘food and drink hub’ concept to promote the area’s growing reputation as a destination for produce. The template was rolled out to other urban areas.