South Downs Food Tourism Project wins Government Grant

Sussex-based Natural Partnerships has been awarded a grant from the new Government ‘Championing British Food Tourism’ scheme, to help support ‘foodie’ tourism to the South Downs region, it was announced by Defra this week.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “Food is at the heart of our culture and we want it to be at the heart of our tourism trade too. Our Great British Food campaign is all about championing British produce, at home and abroad, and this new funding will put our tourism hot spots on the map and encourage more visitors to enjoy our much-loved food and drink.”

“The Natural Partnerships’ South Downs food project is a fantastic idea, and will allow visitors exploring the famous national park to find and enjoy local specialities like English sparkling wine and wild venison.”

Called Local Food Detective, Natural Partnerships’ new project offers a free service to hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs based in the South Downs and a ten-mile radius, to build their appeal to food destination tourists.

Drawing data from the already successful www.southdownsfood.org food finder, it is a digital itinerary builder for serviced accommodation businesses to create bespoke, own-branded information for guests on where to enjoy, buy and eat local fare, encouraging visitors to confirm their booking and enhance their stay.

Hilary Knight, co-director of Natural Partnerships Community Interest Company (CIC) said: “When people are on holiday, whether they are weekenders or visitors from overseas, they don’t want to have generic food that you can have everywhere, they want to have that food experience, unique to where they are visiting.

“Our product will help hospitality businesses by giving them the opportunity to quickly and easily show people enquiring about booking just what a great foodie experience they can have while they’re here – and so help encourage them to confirm bookings and have a better holiday.”

Food trails, markets and a vineyard tour are some of the successful projects given funding from the Defra Championing British Food Tourism funding pot of over £200,000 to attract “foodie” tourists, in areas including Liverpool, the Isles of Scilly, the Chilterns, Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Suffolk, Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire.

Paula Seager, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC, said, “We are absolutely thrilled to win this grant – and are honoured to be the only organisation selected in the South East and we want to thank Defra and also South Downs National Park Authority for all their support.

“We are now urging hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs in the region which support and serve local fare to contact us if they would like to participate in this high-profile project.”

Businesses wishing to get involved should contact hello@southdownsfood.org

Stephen Finlay, Sustainable Tourism Lead in the South Downs National Park, said: “We are starting to see the South Downs recognised almost as much for our high-quality, sustainable food as our spectacular landscapes and tranquil spaces.”