First winners of £40 million Discover England Fund announced

VisitEngland is today announcing the first of the successful applicants to receive year one funding from the £40 million Discover England Fund.

Following a rigorous application process, seven project applications are being announced as successful.

Focusing on 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, the seven bids collectively cover the length and breadth of the regions of England.

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.”

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said:

“With world-class museums, fantastic heritage sites and stunning countryside the UK has a lot to offer tourists - from both home and abroad. 

“Through the Discover England Fund and working with the industry, I look forward to helping further strengthen tourism outside London to ensure that growth from the sector is enjoyed right across the whole country.”

The announcement of the winners comes as the Government launches a Tourism Action Plan to improve Britain’s competitive tourism offer and ensure the continued success of the tourism industry.

One of the aims of the Tourism Action Plan is to make it easier and more appealing for visitors to explore Britain by rail, bus and coach.

To promote the user-friendliness of Britain’s rail network, VisitBritain is running a GREAT Rail competition to give five pairs of winners the chance to test out some of Britain’s best rail itineraries and show just how easy it is to explore all the incredible experience and attractions on offer across Britain.

The three-year £40million Discover England Fund, announced by the Government, will ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing global tourism industry, by offering world-class English tourism products to the right customers at the right time. 

For more information about the Discover England Fund year one (round one):

The seven successful project applicants announced today are:

1. Golf Tourism England

Golf Tourism England Limited will work 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 to 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 will see 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 will be working 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, working with the destination teams in Cheshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and the Peak District, will 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 will be 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 will see 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 will develop 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 to raise awareness and encourage bookings. All products will also feature 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 will enable 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 will be 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.