Credit crunch set to boost tourism - Savills

PUBLISHED: 13:34 21 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:05 15 June 2010

Tourism plays an important part in many South West farming businesses, and the credit crunch could boost trade this summer, says rural consultant Savills.

Tourism plays an important part in many South West farming businesses, and the credit crunch could boost trade this summer, says rural consultant Savills. With many people feeling the impact of the credit crunch, overseas holidays could be dropped in favour of cheaper UK visits, says Clemmie Thavenot, graduate surveyor at Savills Rural. "The South West is a popular tourist destination, and the region's farmers are ideally placed to capitalise on this potential increase in demand. Many farming businesses have diversified to offer holiday accommodation, farm shops, and other visitor attractions, all of which stand to benefit from increased tourist numbers."A recent survey by South West Tourism found that nine out of ten visitors to the region were from the UK, with four fifths visiting on a leisure or holiday-related trip. "Tourism is worth almost £9bn to the south-west, forming about 10 per cent of the region's total employment," says Miss Thavenot. "Not only do visitor numbers have a direct impact on tourism businesses, they make a significant contribution to the local economy and food sales."Savills' clients Ken and Marion Luscombe diversified to offer Bed & Breakfast at Shute Farm in the South Hams 25 years ago. "We started the B&B to support the farm business and help pay for the upkeep of the farmhouse," says Mrs Luscombe. "Now it is a necessity for our business to survive."B&Bs and holiday cottages are an important income generator for many of the region's farms and estates, says Miss Thavenot. But in a competitive market it is essential that businesses stay ahead of the game. "Marketing is incredibly important, as is adding value to the visitors' experience. It is no longer good enough to rent out slightly tired-looking properties: paying customers want top quality accommodation, fantastic local food, welcoming hosts and plenty of local activities on their doorstep - all at affordable prices."With a wealth of experience in farm diversification, Savills can help fledgling or developing businesses with financial and business advice, planning applications, development plans and valuations, to optimise their chances of success, she adds. "South West farmers who have diversified into tourism are tapping into an important income stream. But they must not rest on their laurels - if they are to compete with overseas destinations and other UK regions they must continue to adapt and diversify to meet their visitors' needs, and make the most of their natural resources to do this.

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