Launch of £7 million Objective One fund to support Cornwall’s rural economy
A £7 million project to help Cornwall’s rural economy is being launched today (Thursday) by South West Tourism using Objective One funds.
The Rural Tourism Improvement Fund has been developed through the Objective One programme and will get nearly £2 million of its funding from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF). The same amount will also be contributed by MAFF.
South West Tourism’s chief executive, Malcolm Bell, said: “We estimate this fund will directly and indirectly preserve nearly 420 existing jobs and create over 120 new jobs in Cornwall’s rural communities.
“We have all seen the devastating impact that the foot and mouth crisis has had on the farming industry across the South West. This has come on top of long-term problems of falling farm incomes.
“The new fund will help farmers and other rural businesses to investigate alternative sources of income. We estimate that the grants being made available will help develop new enterprises that can attract up to £20 million in additional spending to Cornwall in the first three years alone.”
The Rural Tourism Improvement Fund will provide capital grants (up to 50% of total cost), grants for environmental improvements (up to 70%) and a fund for the cost of developing applications and business plans for farm tourism projects (up to 80%).
The project aims to directly assist 370 farm tourism enterprises, encourage more businesses to become quality assessed and attain – and pass – national inspection standards.
Project manager Phil Aubrey said: “Tourism contributes 24% of the gross domestic product of Cornwall and Scilly, and farm tourism is well established. It offers a good quality countryside experience and farm and rural tourism has strong potential.
“However, at a time when cash flow is weakened and farm viability is eroded there are major investment decisions to be taken between the farm and the diversified activity.”
Mr Aubrey explained: “The business plan development fund will help farmers and other rural businesses to reach the right decisions on the way forward for their enterprise. The other grants will provide solid financial support for developing quality enterprises that can meet gaps in the market.”
He added: “Successful existing rural tourism businesses that are unable to satisfy the demand on them may also get help to expand. Such businesses may be providers of accommodation or they may be servicing other tourist needs such as the provision of activities or farm restaurants etc.”
The new fund will also fund improved access to the countryside via facilities such as nature trails, providing grants for items such as stiles, waymarking and hides.
Mr Bell said: “Farm tourism can make an important contribution to filling local employment needs. Many successful rural tourism businesses also use local produce and promote local crafts, all of which helps to maintain business diversity in the rural community.”
For more information about the new fund, contact Phil Aubrey or Annette Cole at South West Tourism on 01392 353228 or 353229.
Objective One Partnership Office
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