Countryside is rising star of tourism in the South West
figures released today, in the first half-term holiday period
of 2006, show that more people want to stay on farms and in
the countryside when they take a break in the South West than
The figures are from one of the region's leading tourism
organisations, Cartwheel, which is reporting record levels
of interest in rural breaks and holidays via its website.
There's also been a marked switch from speculative to
decisive traffic, which means more people are booking as well
Last month the website clocked up a record 29,040 unique
visitors, 38 per cent up on January 2005, with a huge 81 per
cent increase in further enquiries about booking holidays.
After mixed results for the South West's tourism industry
as a whole last year, these figures are excellent early indicators
for the 2006 season according to Gina Woodcraft, chief executive
"Rural tourism is definitely a rising star,"
says Gina Woodcraft. "It performed consistently
well last year while business dropped off in many other holiday
sectors. This year there's even more interest, particularly
from people looking for short breaks all year round. The increasing
professionalism of farm and countryside tourism businesses
is paying off and I believe we can expect excellent growth
this year and into the future. Our farming industry is under
such pressure right now and we know from experience that tourism
can be a lifeline for farmers who want to stay on the land.
We're helping them to help themselves with practical
advice on how to develop a professional and competitive enterprise.
So a record level of interest in countryside breaks is excellent
news for South West farmers, our countryside, environment
and economy. Everybody will benefit."
Based on its new figures Cartwheel is estimating that its
website alone generated more than £13.1 million of new
business for the region last year. It expects this to rise
a further 15 per cent in 2006. Rural tourism currently accounts
for 20 per cent of the region's tourism economy, more
than 30 per cent of which, according to Cartwheel, is fuelled
by people from within the region.
Nick Buckland, deputy director of the South West Regional
Development Agency personally supports Cartwheel's work
to strengthen the region's rural economy. "The
agricultural community in the South West of England deserves
good news," he says. "Success like this
will lift spirits and give confidence to a sector that needs
a champion like Cartwheel to serve its best interests."
Guest house Buttervilla near St Germans in South East Cornwall
is a new Cartwheel member, already benefiting from the increased
level of holiday interest via the Cartwheel website.
"We are eco-friendly so rely on online advertising
to attract visitors," says Buttervilla owner Robert
Hocking. "Cartwheel's given us great support
in this venture. We have more hits via the Cartwheel website
than any of the other tourist sites we're registered
with, which underlines that it's a major portal for
people searching for rural breaks and its analysis of the
market has always been spot on. We're confident the
new season will bring with it the new business we all need
Cartwheel's website figures for January 2006 compared
to January 2005:
||highest ever number of unique visitors at 29,040 –
increase of 38 per cent;
||26,096 views of members' ads – 47 per cent
||more than 10,000 (36 per cent) web visitors went on
to make further booking enquiries – an 85 per cent
increase on January 2005;
Cartwheel is a membership organisation dedicated to promoting
rural tourism in the South West. In Cornwall it is one of
the very few private sector organisations to administer an
Objective One gateway fund investment scheme, and over the
past four years has awarded almost £2 million to Cornish
farm and countryside tourism businesses to part-fund marketing
projects and activities. Despite its phenomenal success, Cartwheel
remains a small organisation with fewer than four members
of staff. For more information about Cartwheel and its members
For further information please contact Veronica Newport of
NPR on 01363 866927 or email: email@example.com.
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).
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.
Website value calculations are based on the number of 'further
interest actions', ie. linking through to Cartwheel
members' own websites from which bookings are made.
In 2005 this figure was 60,000. Cartwheel estimates that 25
per cent of these (15,000) will have gone on to make a booking
with an average value of £350 (based on a three night
stay for three people). This suggests business via the Cartwheel
website can be valued in excess of £5.25 million, plus
1.5 times this figure (tourism multiplier figure for wider
spend in the region) resulting in £13.1 million. Given
that 2006 figures are already significantly ahead of 2005,
this is probably a conservative estimate.
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
Cartwheel administers the Objective One funded Rural Tourism
Marketing Grants scheme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The scheme can award 50% grants to fund projects with a total
value of up to £100,000. Projects with a total value
of less than £3,000 can be dealt with through the 'fast
track' process, providing a response within two weeks.
Larger grant applications take between four and six weeks
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439