New winners announced for fund to drive English tourism product development

VisitEngland has today announced successful applicants to secure years two and three funding from the £40 million Discover England Fund.

The eight successful bids include four large-scale projects, worth £1,000,000 or more each, and four smaller-scale pilots, worth up to £500,000 each.

These winning bids will include projects to enhance England’s tourism offer by bringing history to life through innovative technology, making England’s National Parks more accessible to visitors, creating bookable tourism itineraries based on themes including ancestry-links for the US market, and developing coastal trails with art-focused visitor experiences. 

The successful bids announced today follow 25 projects that have secured funding to date from the Discover England Fund.

Tourism Minister, John Glen said:

“We are investing £40 million so more people can discover the huge range of attractions that England has to offer, helping the tourism industry innovate and continue to grow. We are committed to making sure the whole country benefits from the tourism boom and by tailoring packages for international markets we can pull in new visitors and ensure we remain a go-to destination.”

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“These winning projects will put England at the forefront of tourism product development, encouraging more international visitors to discover all the country has to offer.  Whether finding geocache treasure on an art trail, seeing the stories of England’s Heritage Cities through augmented reality videos or uncovering our National Parks, these ambitious programmes will get more people discovering England and driving the benefits of tourism across the regions.”

The three-year £40million Discover England Fund, which runs from 2016-19, improves England’s competitive tourism offer by building world-class, bookable tourism products and getting them to the right international customers at the right time, benefitting the domestic market and making it easier to explore the country.

In years two and three, the Fund is supporting destination-led collaborative bids worth more than £1 million, and a series of pilots. It also continues to fund existing year one projects that demonstrated early success. 

For more information about the Discover England Fund go to:

The eight successful applicants announced today are listed below.

Large-scale years two and three projects worth £1,000,000:

The Collection, led by England’s Historic Cities

Building on a project which gained Discover England funding in year one, The Collection tells the stories of 15 of England’s premiere Historic Cities and for the first time presents them as one product for US visitors.  The bid focuses on people and events and uses augmented reality to bring the cities and their stories to life, inspiring younger visitors to explore regional England. A set of itineraries will link the cities by rail so that visitors can plan a multi-destination visit and a hub will suggest places to eat, trips, tours and in-destination travel options.

Make Great Memories in England’s National Parks, led by Peak District National Park Authority

This two-year collaboration of the National Parks in England will create a joined up, branded collection of experiences. It will also provide business support and a trade marketing strategy to create bookable tourism product across the English National Parks. Initially, the project will work with the travel trade to target the Australian and German markets.

Growing Manchester as an International Gateway to the North, led by Marketing Manchester

This project will increase the volume of visitors coming through Manchester Airport by creating itineraries that showcase the city, and excursions that open up the North of England. Working with destinations, travel trade and the tourism industry and targeting the US market, Marketing Manchester will lead a partnership to maximise the potential of the North of England as an international destination and gateway to the North.

London and Manchester – promoting tourism

Additional funding has been provided through the Discover England Fund to promote tourism to London and Manchester following the terror attacks earlier this year. The programme sees global social media influencers promoting a selection of activities from across the two cities along with an ‘open jaw’ ticketing initiative, where overseas visitors enter England through one city and leave from another. Working in partnership with airlines, train operators, hotels, attractions and food and drink partners as well as the cities’ destination management organisations, the programme is already underway and will run until March 2018, one of the most important times of the year for summer holiday planning and bookings.

Discover England’s Great Walking Trails, led by Marketing Peak District and Derbyshire

Marketing Peak District and Derbyshire will promote the great walking trails of England to visitors from Germany, the Netherlands, France and the US. Three to 14 night itineraries will be designed to promote walking holidays in England combining stunning scenery offered by seven of our National walking trails with the warm hospitality offered by English pubs and accommodation providers. These rural and coastal itineraries will either be booked in their entirety or amended to suit individual needs.

Projects worth up to £500,000:

Connections, led by Destination Plymouth

The Connections project will produce 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 will be 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 will also showcase the best of England’s culture and heritage through the development of a broad range of guided touring experiences and will be sold in the US via tour operators and travel agents.

Brilliant Science led by Marketing Cheshire

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

Culture Coasting, led by Visit Kent

Culture Coasting, which is also National Lottery match funded by the Arts Council England through the Cultural Destinations Programme, will target 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 will include 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.

Creating England’s Literary Legends, led by Visit Nottinghamshire

This project will target 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 will be invited to attend familiarisation trips to sample the itineraries and the resulting feedback will be shared with other destinations with a literary tourism offer.

Notes to Editors:

About the Discover England Fund:

  • In November 2015, the Government announced a £40 million Discover England Fund - an unprecedented opportunity for English tourism. The Fund delivers world-class bookable tourism products, joined up across geographies and/or themes; including integrated transport solutions to provide an end-to-end customer experience.
  • The Fund supports the growth of one of England’s most valuable export industries, inbound tourism. Tourism is an industry that delivers jobs and economic growth across the English regions.  The Fund supported 20 pilot projects in year one (2016-17) that tested product development approaches.  In years two and three, 2017-19, the fund will support:
    • A number of large-scale collaborative projects to be delivered over the two year period 2017-2019 that will create a step-change in bookable English tourism product for international consumers,
    • A smaller funding pot for new one year pilot projects (in year two), and
    • Continuation funding for existing year one projects that demonstrated early learnings (in year two).