The Government's cash boost for rural tourism marketing has been welcomed by trade associations, but experts say it must be spent wisely if it is to have a significant effect.
The cash injection for beleaguered rural tourist locations comprises £750,000 of new money from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and £250,000 in freed budgets at VisitBritain, which the DCMS described as a message that "Britain is back open for business" following a washed-out summer season.
"B&Bs make up a large part of the accommodation available in rural areas, and any impact on them has a knock-on effect on the rural economy."
British Hospitality Association chief executive Bob Cotton gave a cautious welcome to the funds, which were signed off after a meeting last week by tourism emergency response body Tiergroup. He said: "I do not want to see Yorkshire, the West Midlands and the South-west with separate campaigns all competing with each other. On this occasion they need to work together."
VisitBritain has an annual budget of £13.4m for marketing the UK as a tourist destination overseas and England to the rest of the UK.
Kurt Janson, policy director at the Tourism Alliance, said: "It is not just the economic value of the money it is the political value of it. This is the first time since 2001 that the Government has put any additional funds into the tourism budget. It is a vote of confidence for tourism that is equally as important to tourism as the funds themselves."
Janson added that the funding, while appearing to be a small amount in marketing terms, would go far under VisitBritain's tutelage, which averages a return of £35 on every £1 it spends on marketing campaigns.
What can £750,000 buy you?
- Nine 30-second adverts on ITV during Coronation Street
- A 1,001-horsepower Bugatti Veyron sports car
- A restaurant-orientated pub with 30 covers and four-bedroom accommodation in the Wiltshire-Berkshire borders
- A one-bedroom flat in Chelsea
- 411 cows
By Christopher Walton