Midlands to bid for £150K food and tourism boost

A network of new foodie tourist trails celebrating culinary triumphs from cider to pork pies could soon be up and running across the Midlands as Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss today calls on the region’s world leading food community to apply for their share of a dedicated £150,000 fund.

The new grant, which has been set up by Defra’s Great British Food Unit, will allow local partnerships – which could include community groups, trade bodies and National Parks – to group together and bid for up to £25,000 each. The money will then be used to champion regional food and drink, growing local businesses and potentially creating more jobs.

According to Visit Britain, food is a major factor in deciding where to visit for a third of all visitors. New research published today also shows the importance of food and drink in attracting tourists to rural areas with £5.7 billion spent by visitors to rural areas in 2013.

The new fund will help communities strengthen their food and drink identity and significantly boost tourism. The ‘Rural Tourism and Local Food and Drink’ report also reveals how an attractive food and drink offer can extend the tourist season, further boosting local economies and embedding food at the heart of the British tourism experience.

Speaking at the Great Yorkshire Show, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “Food is at the heart of our culture and we want it to be at the heart of our tourism trade too. Across the nation we have seen how great food can transform a region – imagine Cornwall without the celebrated pasty, or Whitby without its iconic fish and chips. It creates wealth, jobs and opportunity for countless rural areas.

“Our Great British Food campaign is all about championing British produce, at home and abroad, and this new funding means an extra boost for exciting and diverse regional cuisine all around the country.

“From pork pies to cider, the Midlands are home to some of our finest food and drink. I want to see local partnerships take advantage of this new grant to take the region’s status as a dining destination to the next level.”

Defra’s new fund is part of the wider Great British Food Campaign, which was launched by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss at the beginning of the year to celebrate our world-class food industry and culture, drive growth and jobs in the sector and establish Britain’s reputation as a great food nation.