A group of farm tourism businesses from France were welcomed to Exmoor recently as part of a European project to develop sustainable rural tourism experiences.
Exmoor National Park Authority worked with the Exmoor Hill Farm Network to host members of ‘Somme Tourisme’ (the tourism board for the Somme) and ‘Bienvenue a la Ferme’ (a farm tourism network) on Exmoor. Participants spent a day visiting a range of different farm tourism businesses on Exmoor with the aim of sharing expertise, ideas and insight to develop rural tourism.
As part of the visit the group met with a range of local businesses involved in farm tourism activities including Westcountry Farm and Food Tours, the Woolhanger Estate, Coombe Farm Bed and Breakfast at Countisbury and the Culbone Inn to learn about their Food Safari weekends, in addition to a visit to the state of the art Exmoor National Park Centre at Lynmouth Pavilion. Representatives were able to discuss their respective businesses, challenges and opportunities and share ideas and information for mutual benefit.
Alongside their day on Exmoor the French delegation also visited businesses in Sedgemoor and attended the Exmoor Tourism Conference in Minehead where they joined well over 100 local tourism businesses, where again they were able to learn from the work of partners here, as well as sharing some of their work in developing effective networks with delegates.
Alexander Lefevre of Somme Tourisme who organised the trip said: “We were very grateful to have the opportunity to visit the area – it was beautiful! We met some great people and were really inspired by the examples we saw of farm tourism businesses from farm accommodation to innovative ways of introducing visitors to the fundamentals of farming. Our intention is to share this learning with other members of our Welcome Farm network and to develop new products ourselves.”
Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager for Exmoor National Park said “It was great to be able to share some of the great work that many businesses are contributing to here on Exmoor with our French colleagues. Despite the obvious differences between Exmoor and the Somme there is a shared commitment to sustainably develop our rural tourism product. We were encouraged by the reaction of our guests to some of the work being carried out here, but also took many ideas from them to better develop our offer.”
The business exchange was organised as part of the EU Interreg funded COOL tourism project which includes partners from Somerset (Exmoor National Park authority, West Somerset Council, Somerset County council and Sedgemoor Council), Kent, Norfolk and Essex in England and Pas de Calais and Somme in France.
PHOTO: the group at Coombe Farm, Countisbury with Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park, on the right at the back.