Guidance and criteria

Read guidance and criteria for applications to the Discover England Fund. 

Years two-three (round two) 

Shaping your project – key components

These customer-centric projects need to be ambitious and multi-faceted (particularly if delivering over two years) – containing a number of key work streams and activities. It is important to consider the following components when shaping and designing your project:

Shaping your project

Market Opportunity Guidance

We have been working with innovation specialists Mangrove Consulting to develop some guidance about identifying market opportunities for your product. This provides frameworks for identifying and sizing target audiences and considering the potential for different types of activity and product offering. It also includes some checklists of questions which should be helpful to you in thinking about how best to shape your project. 

Download our Market Opportunity Guidance

The difference we want to make

You will be required to build in evaluation from the beginning of your project. In your application you should specify key success measures, outputs, outcomes and impacts – both quantitative and qualitative – showing how these are linked back to the activities you are proposing.

There will be a requirement to ‘go beyond the numbers’ and identify learning that can be shared for the benefit of the wider tourism industry and also to consider short and longer term impacts.

We have appointed a Discover England Fund evaluator to undertake the overarching evaluation of the funds core elements. They will also advise you on developing and shaping your evaluation proposals if you are successful.

Funding and eligibility

Discover England Fund grant awards are for revenue funding, although small amounts of capital investment will be considered (e.g. technology) and any requirements should be clearly identified in your application.

The following types of activities may be supported:

  • Developing thematic and/or geographic clusters/groupings of bookable product e.g. heritage, gardens, culture
  • Itinerary and experience development
  • Content and collaterals in support of the above
  • Research
  • Product/market testing
  • International promotion (e.g. consumer marketing campaigns, press trips, tactical marketing with partners and PR activity) in order to test outcomes
  • Technology as appropriate to enable the above
  • Other enabling activities such as welcome, training and business support
  • Project delivery (including additional staff required to run the programme)

The following types of activities will not be supported:

  • Core funding of partner organisations
  • Business as usual costs
  • Capital projects like the adaptation, building and construction of hotels, conference centres, visitor attractions and tourist information centres

Marketing and promotion

The Discover England Fund is focused on world-class product development to meet the needs of international consumers. Partnerships must start with this as their primary objective. However, we recognise that once developed, products must be taken to market and promoted to target customers at the right time and in the right ways. Up to 40% of your projects total budget can be used to market and promote internationally. It is envisaged that the majority of this expenditure will be in the final year of delivery and VisitBritain will play a core role in delivering this working with successful partnerships. This will deliver greater impact and economies of scale, will ensure alignment with VisitBritain’s international marketing strategy and make the most of the opportunity to connect with the Government’s GREAT Britain campaign and brand.

Headline proposals will need to be set out in your application and a detailed plan outlining activities and expenditure. These will be signed off by VisitEngland/VisitBritain. It is important to note that Discover England Fund partnerships and related activities will not receive additional marketing and promotional support over and above what is identified in these plans.

Match funding requirement

Match requirements differ for Option 1 (now open) and Option 2 which will open in early 2017. Further details are outlined below:

Option 1:  2 year large-scale collaborative projects Option 2: 1 year projects and pilots (new and continuation of Round 1)

We would expect you to contribute at least 40% of the projects value as match funding. At least 20% of this must be private sector cash. Other types of match contribution could include EU funds, Lottery, other government funds (both capital and revenue) and in-kind contributions from the public and private sectors (e.g. marketing activities, staff time and resource).

Please note that match levels could be higher if you are working within one or more of the state aid exemptions to ensure your activities are compliant (please see page 5).

We expect you to contribute at least 20% of the project’s value and those which can contribute more will be regarded favourably.


Where beneficial, applicants may demonstrate how their Discover England Fund proposal aligns with other funding it may already have or be seeking. There are a number of opportunities available to applicants including Arts Council England’s Cultural Destinations programme which has a specific strand for match with the Discover England Fund, the Coastal Communities Fund and the EU Growth programme investment in rural tourism targeted through Local Enterprise Partnerships. Please see the Q&A for the menu of opportunities.

Partners must also demonstrate they are bringing other assets and skills to delivery and their commitment to sustaining the activities and partnership beyond the life-span of their project.

Round two criteria

You should demonstrate how your proposals fulfil four criteria. The criteria and associated explanations are set out in priority order.

Criteria Explanation Weighting %

1. An ambitious and innovative approach to developing world-class bookable English tourism product is set out, that joins up the offer geographically or thematically, and that responds to a clearly identified and evidenced customer-centric challenge

  • Rationale and evidence for the product being proposed and the international markets/customers being targeted
  • Has a clear geographical footprint that joins-up product across large areas of the country or thematically/nationally (smaller footprint acceptable if a 1 year project under option 2)
  • The programme of activity is highly innovative, incorporates new technologies/techniques and/or business models
  • A clear plan is proposed to ensure the product is bookable and can be distributed, marketed and promoted to the customer by the end of its  timeframe (working closely with VE/VB)
  • Demonstrate how the programme of activity includes all of the components identified - problem- solving; amplification; new product (only one component if a 1 year project under option 2)
2. Robust outcomes and impacts are identified, including plans for how you will measure and evaluate your success and share key learnings across the tourism industry
  • Set out key outcomes and impacts to be delivered that are additional or incremental i.e. not business as usual
  • Include headline plans for measurement and evaluation that also build in knowledge transfer and sharing learning widely across the tourism industry to shape and inform future product development
3. A clear case is made for large-scale public sector investment and  demonstrates leveraging of match and partner resources
  • Clearly identify the amount of public funding required, why it is needed and how it represents value for money – Option 1 must be of a minimum value of £1m over 2 years; Option 2 must be of a value of up to £250k)
  • Clearly set out your match contribution:
  • Option 1 – 2 year large scale collaborative projects should be at least 40% of the project’s value as match funding – of which 20% must be private sector cash
  • Option 2 – 1 year projects or pilots should be at least 20% of the projects value
  • Include headline activities and a breakdown of expenditure that clearly highlights what the fund is paying for and what partners are contributing
  • Identify and assess key risks to delivery, include evidence of state aid compliance (200 word compulsory statement) and other legislation and processes as appropriate e.g. procurement, EU package travel regulations
4. A strong commitment to partnership and joined-up delivery during the life of the project and beyond
  • If you are applying for a 2 year project identify whether a geographic or thematic partnership is being established and demonstrate the full breadth and scale of the Destination Organisations involved and the LEP areas covered – including LEP support
  • In all cases clearly set out the lead partner and the other partners involved and their role in delivery. Demonstrate the assets and skills they bring to the partnership
  • Clearly describe what will be delivered during the timescale of your project
  • Set out commitment and ideas for sustaining your partnership and key activities beyond the life of the programme
  • Highlight strong programme and project management arrangements and track record of delivery
  • Demonstrate wider stakeholder support that will support programme delivery



Please email with any queries.

Next step: Compliance - what you need to know