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28.09.05
Farm Tourism Harvests New Marketing Cash

Gina Woodcraft, chief executive of Cartwheel

Gina Woodcraft, chief executive of Cartwheel

After a mixed season for Cornish tourism, the rural tourism sector is celebrating a new injection of cash which will help businesses buck the trend by marketing themselves more professionally and successfully.

The Rural Marketing Grant scheme, administered by leading rural tourism organisation Cartwheel under the Objective One programme, had been expected to wind down this year. However the staggering success of the scheme, which generated £5.3m in additional turnover for the sector in three years, has helped secure it further funding and an extension until 2007.

Cartwheel is now encouraging Cornish farm and rural tourism businesses, such as B&B's, self-catering cottages, farm shops, rural attractions and activities, to access the grant scheme for part-funding of a whole range of professional marketing activities.

"There's no doubt about it," says Gina Woodcraft, chief executive of Cartwheel, "businesses that have received grants and invested in marketing have performed better. It's been a tough year for tourism in Cornwall, but this additional funding will help many farm and rural enterprises buck the trend. Sustainable success is only going to come to those who distinguish themselves from the competition. Accommodation supply has increased while visitor numbers have dipped, so professional marketing is vital. Rural tourism businesses would be looking a gift horse in the mouth if they did not take advantage of these additional funds, as they're unlikely to come again."

Cartwheel has been administering the Rural Marketing Grant Scheme since 2002. To date it has supported or funded more than 800 rural tourism businesses in Cornwall. The scheme was expected to increase gross income by £1.1m as a direct result of grant funded activities. However, by encouraging the smaller business to think strategically and be more worldly in their approach to marketing, the grant scheme topped £5m in gross additional income, demonstrating the critical importance of professional marketing for this growing sector.

In recent years Cartwheel has also used its Objective One investment to develop and deliver a series of 'Cutting Edge' seminars to farm and rural tourism enterprises, bridging skills gaps and encouraging professional marketing practices. Under the extended marketing grant scheme, rural tourism businesses can apply for up to 50 per cent grant funding for activities such as design (including. website), printing, public relations, photography, vehicle signage and marketing training. To qualify the project must be located in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly, have an agricultural holding number plus either five acres of land or an annual agricultural turnover of £1500 or more.

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership, said: "Cartwheel has been a tremendous success in supporting those who run rural and farm tourism businesses. The region's breathtaking countryside is one of the mainstays for its tourism economy and it is important to have the highest quality rural tourism businesses to complement this, whilst attracting more spend per visitor."

For further information please contact Veronica Newport of npr on 01363 866927 or email: veronica@n-pr.co.uk.

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

Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and land based industries project is advised to speak with Maria Ford, at Government Office South West - 01752 635015 - before commencing development as there are now only limited funds available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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Editor's notes:

Cartwheel is the South West of England's leading farm and rural holiday company, offering visitors the chance to enjoy a unique countryside experience. It is a private sector limited company run by farmers, committed to raising the standard and profile of rural tourism in the South West.

All Cartwheel members are independently inspected according to the company's quality criteria which encompasses accommodation, local food, green tourism and sustainable land management.

Cartwheel administers the Objective One funded Rural Tourism Marketing Grants scheme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The scheme can award up to 50% grants to fund projects with a total value of up to £150,000. Projects with a total value of less than £5,000 can be dealt with through the 'fast track' process, providing a response within two weeks. Larger grant applications take between four and six weeks to process.

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

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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