The announcement of an investment of £5 million to boost international tourism in the South West has been broadly welcomed by Devon tourism authority Visit Devon. Official figures show the county saw a 39% growth in international visitors across Devon in 2013, with increased numbers also expected for 2014.
Visit Devon chair, Carolyn Custerson, told the Devon Week: “We are delighted at this really great news. Across the South West we have been lobbying to secure more support for the South West Tourism Industry following the award of £10m to the North and we are relieved that our voices have been heard.
“After London the South West is the most popular destination for overseas visitors but we no longer have the budgets to target international markets.
“With significant international visitor growth forecast this new government fund could not be coming at a better time and will give us all an exciting opportunity to work together across the South West to achieve further international tourism growth.”
Visit England will administer the fund on behalf of the government, using the money to back initiatives aimed at increasing awareness of the South West of England as a tourist destination in Europe and beyond. Money will be allocated for marketing activity, travel itineraries and to promote the transport links between Bristol, Exeter and Newquay.
There will also be a focus on business development, with smaller businesses getting help to make their products and services relevant to international audiences.
Victoria Hatfield, deputy chair of Visit Devon said: “Devon is one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in the UK and over the last few years we’ve seen a significant increase in international visitors, many returning again and again once they’ve discovered all we have to offer.
“This growth in popularity can be traced back to the increased presence the county has on the international stage. London 2012 drew visitors to the UK who then explored the country further; feature films such as War Horse brought thousands to Dartmoor and Rugby World Cup 2015, later this year, will showcase Exeter and the rest of Devon.
“Holidaymakers want to visit the places they’ve seen on screen. Cornwall has seen this with the popular Doc Marten series and the English Riviera with the Poirot series but it’s essential we keep pushing the message out there, every way possible and supporting the local economy.”
Amanda Lumley, chief executive of Destination Plymouth, said: “14% of the Devon population depend on tourism for employment so it’s vital we do everything in our power to bring visitors to the region. This year both Rugby World Cup 2015 and Agatha Christie’s 125th Anniversary – which will be celebrated at the International Agatha Christie Festival in September – will both do much for worldwide awareness of Devon but we need to be thinking ahead too and marking international events, such as Mayflower 400 in 2020 – the 400th anniversary of the sailing to America by the Pilgrim Fathers – on the World stage.”
Carolyn said: “Devon & Cornwall are both very attractive tourism destinations to overseas visitors and we look forward to working closely with Visit Cornwall, along with Visit England, to further strengthen this proposition to the international market.”
(from a press release)