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28.03.08
Report highlights rural tourism marketing success

Cartwheel, the organisation set up to improve the quality of farm tourism, has produced its final report for the Objective One Rural Tourism Marketing Grant Scheme.

The figures show hundreds of rural businesses have been supported with almost £6 million worth of extra sales created.

The scheme began in October 2001 and ended in March 2008. The report – “Head Over Heels with South West Farms” – demonstrates how businesses were supported to think more strategically and to plan better for the future. It also highlights the different support that micro businesses need compared to larger businesses.

Gina Woodcraft, Cartwheel Chief Executive, said: “To get a grant the applicants had to think strategically about their business. Businesses that are family owned and run often proved resistant to this idea and intervention generally. But with support and encouragement have ended up by benefiting enormously from the challenging of old ideas and the introduction of new ones.

“This is a concept that the smaller business in Cornwall will retain after the programme has finished.”

The scheme had two main marketing projects where farm businesses could benefit. These were the Large Grant Scheme and the Fast Track Scheme. The scheme also introduced the Cartwheel Holidays website and the Qualmark Project which monitored guest feedback to keep businesses aware of what was needed.

The Large Grant Scheme supported 50 businesses to claim stage. The report says that where the scheme really benefited this sector was in encouraging family businesses to think about the future and to introduce new ideas. It states: “Some projects initially hesitant about even applying for a marketing grant subsequently found that our scheme then proved a catalyst for major expansion.”

One example of this was Paradise Park Wildlife Sanctuary, near Hayle, which opened in 1973. Following a Cartwheel grant of £43,874 over a four-year period, the marketing strategy proved so successful that the owners applied for separate Objective One investment for the Jungle Barn – a major indoor play area.

Visitor numbers increased by 35% from 2002 to 2006 for both main and off season, with the shoulder months seeing the greatest rise due to the new indoor facility built during the latter period.

In the same time scale, annual turnover increased by 50%, securing all jobs and creating an additional 11 full time and two part time positions. Prior to the grant intervention, Paradise admits it was in a difficult position, but with creative ideas and support from Cartwheel, was able to re-evaluate and now provides a better facility for local people and visitors putting Paradise Park in a much stronger position for the future.

The Fast Track Scheme supported 674 businesses to claim stage. The main beneficiaries were micro businesses – described as “the backbone of tourism county-wide”.

Applications were most frequently for start up computer packages, websites and brochures. The report states: “The introduction of this marketing grant scheme was well timed with a view to the increase in the importance of the internet for those choosing where to take a holiday. The scheme has played a major role in encouraging eligible farm tourism businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to wake up to this fact.”

Of the future the report predicts that web marketing and a detailed understanding of customers will remain important and “green” tourism and all inclusive pricing will become increasingly popular.

For further information please contact Clare Morgan, Media Relations Manager, Partnership Office, on 01872 223439/07973 813647 or email cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Cartwheel project through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

 

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
The Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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