Rural businesses in the Forest of Bowland are working together to rebuild the visitor economy as demand for domestic holidays in countryside settings looks set to increase.
Led by Champion Bowland – a charity that provides accessible small grants for local projects which benefit the environment, local communities and visitors – the Forest of Bowland Sustainable Tourism Network has launched a new destination marketing website designed to attract everyone to explore the beautiful Forest of Bowland.
This site: www.discoverbowland.uk went live this week – along with a new social media campaign designed to drive traffic to the new website. Champion Bowland has provided the seed capital to launch the site, with future funding to come from stakeholder businesses who have signed up to participate.
A deep well of original content includes information on accommodation, outdoor activities, courses and experiences and the Forest of Bowland’s outstanding food and drink offer.
The new destination website launches with a deliberate focus on bringing in bookings for the 2021 season.
Rural accommodation providers continue to be hit hard with ongoing restrictions affecting the wedding market – an important source of revenue for many rural businesses.
But next year, millions of adventurous couples and active families are expected to seek fresh air and plenty of outdoor activities on UK staycations in rural settings.
As autumn gives way to winter, the focus of the website content will shift to promoting Bowland as a genuine year-round destination, with a comprehensive calendar of events, activities, festivals and shows.
Forest of Bowland AONB sustainable tourism officer Hetty Byrne said:
“It’s been a very challenging year for the rural economy in Bowland, but many of these enterprising businesses have been busy preparing to welcome back visitors with even better facilities next year.
“We’ve been working hard with our sustainable tourism business network and local suppliers to collate the content and build this website and we are confident the new website will significantly increase awareness of Bowland and inspire outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers and foodies to discover the area.
“We will also be encouraging visitors to stay longer and – ideally – spend more money with local businesses to do their bit to help the rural economy recover.”
Chairman of Champion Bowland Mike Pugh said:
“We were delighted to receive such a positive response to the destination website when we first floated it last year and when the pandemic arrived, we decided to accelerate our existing plans when we recognised the need to Build Back Better.
“As a charity that aims to invest in schemes that develop the rural economy and benefit the towns and villages of the Forest of Bowland, we are proud to be in a position to ensure the website launched in time to get Bowland firmly back on the tourism radar for the 2021 season.”
Local Tourism Business owner Dominique Ashford, Dale House said:
“We are really excited to be able to tap into this exciting new website as, since we reopened, we have noticed an increase in enquiries from across the country from people who are nervous about holidaying abroad and also don’t want to negotiate crowds of people in the usual tourist traps.
“We believe the new destination website will inspire a new generation of visitors to Bowland who will really appreciate the fresh air, the amazing landscapes, the stunning wildlife and the delicious food and drink to be found in the Forest of Bowland.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
About the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
The Forest of Bowland is one of 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty across Britain and covers 803 square kilometres (312 square miles) of rural land in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1964, it’s important for its heather moorland, blanket bog and rare birds like the iconic Hen Harrier – symbol of the Bowland AONB.
In 2005 the AONB became the first protected area in England to be awarded the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas and this honour was repeated when the Charter was re-awarded in September 2010.
In November 2011 the AONB were recipients of the prestigious 'Best Destination' runner-up award from The International Responsible Tourism Awards.
About Champion Bowland
Champion Bowland is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) which provides easily accessible small grants for local projects which benefit the environment, local communities and visitors within the Forest of Bowland AONB.
Champion Bowland raises funds from visitor donations, charitable activities and other sources – including this website.
In recent years, Champion Bowland has helped fund projects as diverse as outdoor classrooms for local schoolchildren, bird hides, pollinator patches and wildflower meadow conservation. Read about the projects Champion Bowland has supported in recent years here.