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Visit England to promote the South West

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 26, 2013

VisitEngland

Visit England

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High-spending overseas tourists will be urged to flock to the Westcountry under proposals to promote Britain's most scenic regions.

National tourism body Visit England is in negotiations with Whitehall officials to secure state funding to champion "touring regions".

The quango bagged almost £20 million from the Government's Regional Growth Fund (RGF) last year, but the money was pumped into cities and towns including Manchester, Birmingham and Bath.

But it wants to advertise larger areas to a global audience amid concern about the lack of support for other parts of England.

In an interview, Visit England chief executive James Berresford said his second RGF bid – if successful – will back a campaign encouraging international visitors to tour specific regions of England.

"We are planning – or hoping – to go for Regional Growth Fund Two, and to base this work more around 'touring' areas," he said.

"Yorkshire would be an ideal touring area. And there are other parts of the country that lend themselves to that (as well).

"I think the South West, I think there are elements around Shakespeare country. The same with Devon and Cornwall.

"So I think those touring areas are the next approach. (But) we only have limited money."

Overseas visitors lavish around £300 million in Devon and Cornwall annually, with French, German and American visitors spending the most time in the region.

But less than one-in-ten visitors to the Westcountry are from overseas, relaying instead on domestic visitors.

Latest official figures show that in 2011 Devon and Cornwall attracted 729,000 visits from abroad – 425,000 in Devon and 303,000 in Cornwall.

Last year, Britain's tourism chief sparked anger in the region after claiming visitors do not come to the UK for beach holidays.

Furious MPs and tourist boards in Devon and Cornwall – which boast one-third of the country's beaches – criticised Visit Britain's Sandie Dawe for "talking down" the region while trying to lure millions of foreign visitors to the UK for the Olympics.

The £2.6 billion RGF has the aim of creating a more fair and balanced economy and to support those areas and communities worst affected by public sector cuts.

Bids for the fourth round of £350 million of funding open last week.

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