VisitWiltshire has been successful in securing £1m over two years from the Discover England Fund to develop the Great West Way into a premier touring route between London and Bristol.
The ‘Great West Way’ project will be led by destination management organisation VisitWiltshire and is set to transform tourism along the 125-mile route – a quarter of which is in Wiltshire.
This is one of a number of successful projects made possible by HM Government’s £40m Discover England Fund, administered by VisitEngland.
The ‘Great West Way’ project will be supported by 40 percent match funding from partners in the public and private sectors.
VisitWiltshire chief executive David Andrews said: “We are absolutely thrilled to hear that our round two bid has been successful. This major investment will help us create one of the world’s premier touring routes between London and Bristol, linking destinations, accommodation, attractions and transport options under a single Great West Way theme.
“It will include the development of inspirational new content and channels making it easier for visitors to book personalised trips, and act as a catalyst for visitor economy growth along the route.”
The Great West Way is targeted primarily at international visitors, especially tourists from Germany, the Netherlands, and the USA, but is also likely to benefit domestic tourism.
VisitEngland chief executive Sally Balcombe said: “We have been delighted by the many bids reflecting the innovation in product development thriving across the country’s tourism landscape.
“This commitment to fund the ‘Great West Way’ is the first of a number of major investments that will enhance England’s tourism offer. Together, the successful Discover England Fund projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth, creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across the country.”
VisitWiltshire received Round One Discover England funding of £250,000 for Great West Way activity in 2016/17 to develop and concept test the idea, and to create and launch a Great West Way proposition and brand positioning
Partners supporting the project include Destination Organisations, Local Enterprise Partnerships and towns along the route, transport operators, arts and heritage organisations, ports of entry, World Heritage Sites and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, tour operators, guiding companies, and a wide range of tourism businesses.
The route – originally envisioned as the A4, which goes through Marlborough, Calne, Chippenham and Corsham – is now a corridor, encompassing the Kennet and Avon Canal and associated cycleway through Devizes, and the Great Western Railway.