£3 million initiative aims to boost cultural tourism

£3 million initiative aims to boost cultural tourism

A new initiative aimed at boosting cultural tourism has been introduced by Arts Council England and VisitEngland.

Cultural Destinations will see arts and culture organisations working closely with local tourism bodies.

Arts Council England is investing £3 million into the scheme which will provide arts and culture organisations the opportunity to bid for grants to deliver projects that develop local cultural offerings in partnership with destination bodies.

This project will consist of new arts events and festivals, holiday packages and cultural experiences as well as training, audience and visitor research, and familiarisation visits.

A key priority is to encourage and support destinations that have real potential to grow their economies by improving their cultural offerings.

Closer working between the two sectors will help to increase visitors, and how much they spend, to both arts and cultural attractions, and help contribute to local economic growth.

Arts Council England is seeking applications from consortia made up of at least one cultural organisation and one destination equivalent. They can apply for grants from between £250,000 and £350,000 for projects that will run from March 2014 for a maximum of 3 years.  Up to 15 consortia could benefit from the new fund.

The programme forms part of the three-year partnership between the Arts Council and VisitEngland.

Tourism minister Hugh Robertson said: “The arts are one of this country’s greatest assets, attracting visitors from near and far. This partnership will provide a boost for local arts organisations, help the tourism sector build on 2012 and make a strong contribution to economic growth.”

Culture minister Ed Vaizey added: “Bringing together the culture and tourism sectors in a scheme like this is an inspired concept.

“Thousands of brilliant cultural events are staged in cities, towns and villages across the UK each year and this fund will be instrumental in promoting them to the 26 million overseas tourists who visit England annually, and the 104 million Britons who venture out on ‘staycations’ each year.

“Our fantastic cultural sector is one of the top reasons why tourists choose to holiday here, and is a key element in attracting the £97 billion contribution that tourism makes to the British economy each year.”

VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said: “A strong cultural offering in destinations around England will certainly help to boost domestic and international tourism, will stimulate local economies, and provide visitors with world class cultural experiences, ultimately strengthening England’s reputation as one of the greatest cultural destinations in the world.

“VisitEngland’s marketing strategy fully supports the cultural sector through a variety of campaigns aimed at inspiring visitors to make the most of this country’s fantastic arts and music scene.

“We believe in the value of cultural tourism and this partnership certainly demonstrates the legacy for tourism following a bonanza year of cultural events  in 2012.”

Arts Council England chief executive Alan Davey said: “As everybody knows, people come to England for the vibrant arts and cultural scene that we have here. And we need to make the most of this.

“This is why the £3 million we are investing in the cultural destinations programme is so important – because the closer arts and cultural organisations work with the tourism sector, the more they can contribute to the growth of local economies, and grow Brand Britain as the destination for people to go.”

Applications must be submitted no later than 5pm on September 26.

Information on how to apply can be found at http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/apply-for-funding/cultural-destinations/

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