£3.6 million boost for farm tourism

More than 1,000 rural businesses across Cornwall are expected to benefit from a £3.6 million Objective One project aimed at boosting the county’s farm tourism sector by offering grants of up to 50% for marketing projects.

Cartwheel, a farmer-led company set up three years ago to promote farm tourism, has been awarded just over £1 million of Objective One funding towards the project, with matched funding coming from the Department of Food and Rural Affairs and the private sector.

It will administer the marketing grant scheme as a sister project to South West Tourism’s £7 million Rural Tourism Improvement Fund, which is also part-funded by Objective One.

The new scheme will run for four years and offer grants of up to £100,000 to help businesses launch new marketing projects either individually or in groups.

Smaller, fast track grants of between £500 and £2,000 will also be available to help towards the cost of new marketing activity, including the cost of computers, faxes and answerphones.

The scheme is expected to help just over 1,000 business, generate £4.25 million of new sales and safeguard £4.4 million of existing sales.

Eligible businesses include all farm tourism businesses, farm accommodation organisations and groups with links to farm tourism operating in Cornwall who can demonstrate continuing involvement in agriculture and related activities.

The grant scheme will be backed up by research into potential niche markets for farm tourism, examining what is on offer and where there may be new opportunities, including adding to or improving existing facilities. This information will then be publicly available for the industry to act on.

It will work closely with South West Tourism’s capital grant scheme, known as the Rural Tourism Improvement Fund. This £7 million project, launched earlier in the year, helps rural businesses diversify with grants of up to 50% and is backed by £2 million of Objective One funding.

These means a farm tourism business could apply to South West Tourism to help build new facilities, and then use the Cartwheel scheme market those facilities.

Gina Woodcraft, manager of the new project, said: “The two funds are entirely complementary and the aim of our scheme is to support and assist all farm tourism businesses in Cornwall by raising awareness, improving quality, increasing diversity and boosting trade.

“We really want to build on the distinctiveness of Cornwall and the rural tourism activities it offers, and we want the money to be a legacy for these businesses after Objective One has gone.

“The grants will benefit individual businesses looking to expand and enter new markets, and it will help groups of businesses who, for example, might be related geographically, environmentally or through what they produce, so there is scope for some really large projects.

“We will normally be able to offer up to 50% of costs for revenue activities and we will keep the paperwork to a minimum for applicants. Combine this with South West Tourism’s capital grant scheme and it starts to add up to a substantial package for rural businesses.”

An example of a business that could benefit from the new scheme is Dairyland near Newquay, which includes a working dairy, heritage museum, agricultural machinery collection, nature trail and a shop and restaurant.

Dairyland company secretary Brian Anderson said: “We were the first farm in the country to diversify as a tourist attraction and the sector has seen tremendous growth in recent years.

“What this fund will provide is essential investment to help farm tourism businesses across Cornwall market their product and identify new areas of activity, so it will be a welcome boost especially in the wake of the foot and mouth crisis.”

In addition to the revenue grant scheme, Cartwheel has secured funding to allow it to continue its own marketing support and business services activities for farm tourism operators in the county, plus its regular newsletter, brochures, website and direct mail campaigns.

David Rodda, who heads the Objective One Agricultural Development Team, said: “This project will offer a lifeline for many farm tourism businesses in Cornwall who have the ideas, drive and ambition to expand but need some extra investment to make it a reality.
“It will also identify new niche markets in the county and safeguard against overcapacity in the sector.

“This project means there are now funds valued at around £20 million available to rural businesses and food and drink producers in Cornwall through the Objective One programme.”

For more information about the marketing grant scheme and an application form, telephone 01392 877842, fax 01392 877846, email info@cartwheel.org.uk or visit www.cartwheel.org.uk, or www.farmtourism.co.uk.

For more information about Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Rural Tourism Improvement Fund, contact Phil Aubrey or Annette Cole at South West Tourism on 01392 353228 or 353229.


Editors notes:

Jason Clark
Communications Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel:01872 241379
Fax:01872 241388