The COOL tourism project aimed to make use of rural areas' environmental assets to attract visitors.
Sedgemoor is keen to promote the district's natural assets, which for many remain a well-kept secret, so it successfully applied to join the COOL Tourism project funded by the European Regional Development Funds from the INTERREG IV A France (Channel) - England cross-border co-operation programme.
The COOL tourism project, which closed in February 2015, aimed to make use of rural areas' environmental assets to attract visitors. The partners included Pas de Calais, Kent, Norfolk, Essex, The Somme, Somerset County, West Somerset Council, Sedgemoor and Exmoor National Park Authority. By working together, the partners endeavoured to use their shared resources to create the means to boost experiential, rural tourism.
This fitted with Sedgemoor's Corporate Plan which has economic development as a priority since tourism is a key sector for the district.
The project addressed the need for market research, product development and business support in the partners' areas. All the areas have in common a coastline, beautiful countryside, distinctive environment, heritage and culture. Sedgemoor's activities in the project concentrated on Wildlife & wetlands, heritage, food and drink and local distinctiveness. The intention was to develop initiatives that offer visitors an experience while nurturing the environments that attract them. Using research to identify potential attractions, we worked with business networks that can support these. The project created a comprehensive tool kit for use by all tourism businesses and a supplement promoting Exmoor and Somerset Experiences that is available on line.
COOL was a way of bringing the district to the attention of more holiday-makers from across Europe as well as from within the UK and of identifying new opportunities for rural tourism. It focused on the moors and the new marshes at Steart. It aimed to link in with cycling initiatives, coastal path development and the visitors' centres planned for Steart, Avalon Marshes and eventually Hinkley Point C.
In Somerset, the project has helped us prepare for the work we will be doing as part of the Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership, tasked with spending the tourism contribution from the developer towards taking advantage of the increased interest in the County and the influx of workers and their families. It will also be used to compensate for any disruption to the sector from the construction work.
For further details, contact the Tourism Officer on 0300 303 7805