Introducing a new collection of experiences

Northumberland National Park Authority has joined forces with England’s other nine National Parks to secure £1m from the Discover England Fund to introduce a collection of experiences designed to inspire visitors from Australia and Germany.

The project, which is complemented by £400k in match funding from all nine of England’s National Parks, is a two year collaboration that will deliver a joined up, branded collection of signature visitor experiences, business support and trade marketing strategies to develop bookable tourism products across all English National Parks.

The project is called “Make great memories in England’s National Parks” and is one of a number of successful schemes to receive funding from the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund.

Northumberland National Park Authority, which is part of National Parks England (NPE), the umbrella body bringing together all nine National Park Authorities and the Broads Authority, worked in partnership to win the bid.

The Fund is administered by VisitEngland which is working on a programme of activity to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing global tourism industry, by offering world-class English tourism products to the right customers at the right time. The Fund is a central government funded programme of activity, supported by match funding partners in the public and private sectors.

Tony Gates, chief executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, welcomed the announcement. He said: “Visit England’s Discover England Fund gives us an exciting opportunity to showcase the special qualities of Northumberland and our wider National Park family to a broader international market.

Tony Gates

“Our National Park communities are part of English culture, passing down unique traditions from generation to generation. They offer a range of memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that can only be appreciated from within our National Park landscapes.

“This is why National Parks should play a key role in the promotion of our national visitor offer as the parks are an internationally recognised brand and provide high quality visitor experiences in iconic landscapes.

“Currently, our National Parks attract over 94 million visitors a year, of which over 90% are domestic. This programme will be instrumental in promoting England’s National Parks to new audiences whilst helping us to continue growing global support for the enjoyment and care of these unique, living landscapes and the rural communities within them.”

The core elements of the ‘Make great memories in England’s National Parks’ project include:

  • Development of an overarching experiential brand in England’s National Parks, designed to align the proposition and engage the, Australian and German visitors via the travel trade;
  • Development of a framework to engage local businesses and enhance the overall visitor experience;
  • Development of a travel trade strategy to stimulate partnerships that successfully connect the brand and product with our targeted overseas markets;
  • Creation and delivery of a range of compelling world-class experiences within the English National Parks highlighting the distinctive nature and assets of each national park.

The new product collection will be marketed to travel trade partners and through co-operative marketing activities including a range of trade missions and travel shows.

VisitEngland chief executive Sally Balcombe stated: “The calibre of submissions reflects the innovation in product development thriving across the country’s tourism landscape. The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England. This project will draw domestic city dwellers and international visitors to discover more of England’s stunning countryside showcased in our National Parks.”

National Parks in England are major contributors to the tourism economy currently accounting for more than £4bn of visitor spending within National Parks and their surrounding areas. They also account for almost a quarter of spending on rural tourism.

Margaret Paren, chair of National Parks England and the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “Our National Parks are the most iconic, awe-inspiring landscapes of the English countryside. People have lived in these landscapes for centuries creating distinct cultures, traditions and food, rich archaeology, nature and space to experience the tranquillity of England’s countryside.

“Unlike many National Parks across the world, our parks are free to enter and are relatively accessible from town and city destinations. This funding will enable us to showcase the authentic local welcome to England’s countryside across the world, help more people to discover the fantastic experiences they can have in our National Parks and bring more business to local companies.”