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( A one million pound cash boost to support rural tourism in England was announced today by Culture Secretary James Purnell. He confirmed the funding at a meeting of tourism chiefs in London.

£750,000 will be given to the national tourism agency, VisitBritain, to promote rural destinations and visitor attractions which are vital to the economic health of local communities. The package, supplemented by £250,000 from VisitBritain’s existing budgets, will fund a targeted marketing campaign for the regions of England and businesses such as B&Bs, caravan parks and attractions. The campaign will begin this weekend.

Mr Purnell is today visiting the Courtyard Theatre, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Hatton World Farm Village. These two popular Warwickshire destinations demonstrate the range of first-rate entertainment on offer for visitors, both local and international.

James Purnell said:

“Britain is open for business. Right across the UK there are fantastic cultural and tourist attractions putting on high quality events.

“This £1,000,000 cash injection from Government and VisitBritain will help promote England’s many great destinations. I want to remind people across the country of the wealth of world class cultural and leisure opportunities on our doorsteps. You don’t need to go far to have a great day out. And we’ll be making sure that overseas visitors are reminded just how much there is to do in Britain.

“The RSC is one of the finest cultural institutions in the world, and makes a major economic as well as artistic contribution. It attracts visitors from all over the world. And Hatton World is a fine example of how farming and tourism are now intrinsically linked. Half way through the school holidays, what better time to get out and make the most of the great opportunities on our doorsteps?”

Tom Wright, chief executive of VisitBritain, said:

“Government commitment to additional marketing funds comes at an opportune time for England and particularly rural destinations. It enables us to implement high profile activities on a larger scale and remind potential visitors of the appeals of a rural escape and that our tourism businesses remain open for business.”

1. Tourism is the UK’s fifth largest industry, worth £85 billion to the economy and employing around 2 million people directly and indirectly.

2. VisitBritain will develop a programme to support rural tourism, which will include:

• Increasing VisitBritain’s investment in rural marketing campaigns, widening opportunities for affected regions and businesses to participate at little to no cost. In particular, using the Rural Escapes campaign brochures and e-marketing to drive additional domestic visitors to the countryside and the Family Fun campaign to support domestic travel during the school holidays.
• A national media campaign to drive awareness of domestic destinations. In addition to print advertising and broadcast PR activity, TV advertising will be brought forward while the launch of Britain’s Favourite View on prime-time national television is also helping inspire day trips and longer holidays throughout the English landscape.
• Providing regularly updated, authoritative, reliable and inspirational information on a range of tourism experiences on and, co-ordinating messages on the websites of tourism associations, transport and tour operators, attractions and accommodation providers. Banner advertising and search engine optimisation to direct consumers and casual enquirers to this resource.
• Activity to raise awareness of Tourism Information Centres as sources of up-to-date local and regional information.

Elliott Frisby Corporate PR Manager VisitBritain Thames Tower Blacks Road London W6 9EL Tel: 020 8563 3035 Mob: 07951 996241

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