This is an archived press release

Friday 20 February 2004

20 February 2004


A partnership between the Peak District and Scandinavia will look at new ways boost the areas' economies by helping small businesses harness their greatest asset – the local environment. The BESST project (Business and Environment linked through Small Scale Tourism) is one of the first partnerships of its kind in Europe.

It has seen the Peak District National Park Authority and University of Derby join forces with Hylte in Sweden and Fyresdal in Norway. Like the Peak District they are beautiful rural areas that have experienced a decline in agriculture and traditional industries and are characterised by smaller family-based businesses.

The three areas want to encourage the growth of tourism enterprises that make effective use of the high quality environment. With this in mind BESST will help businesses develop new products and services linked directly to the environment – the landscape, distinctive wildlife and cultural heritage.

The project has just been given the go-ahead by the European Union and the partners will share £1.5m – most of the Peak District's funding is being provided by the European Union's Interreg Programme and the Government. Each partner will now take a lead on one aspect of the project:

· The Peak District National Park Authority will focus on showing how links can be made between environmental conservation and economic development, for example by restoring traditional buildings for tourism use. The Authority's successful Environmental Quality Mark awards – which recognise businesses achieving the highest standards of care for the environment – will form the basis for similar schemes in Norway and Sweden.

· Hylte, described as Sweden's 'most southerly wilderness', will lead on developing new tourism packages based on the environment. This could range from courses in watercolour painting and botany to activity holidays based around cycling and canoeing.

· Fyresdal, 'the most beautiful area of Telemark', will co-ordinate efforts to maximise the special qualities that create a unique holiday experience, for example focusing on local foods and crafts.

· The University of Derby will develop marketing and sales techniques for businesses, looking at events, promotional materials, booking systems and IT and the Internet.

Project work in each country will be based on common principles and they will learn from each other. There will also be opportunities for Peak District businesses to share experiences with their Scandinavian counterparts.

Chair of the Peak District National Park Authority's resources committee, Anne Ashe, said: "We are delighted that this innovative scheme has been given the go-ahead. The focus will be on coming up with new ways to develop our economies in a sustainable way that conserves and enhances the environment. A great deal of good work has already been achieved in the Peak District, and the partnership will enable us to build on this by sharing experience and expertise with other countries."

Professor David Davies, Director of the University of Derby College, Buxton, said: "This project builds on our existing commitment to the rural community and helps to further cement our relationship with the National Park Authority. We will soon relocate to the new Devonshire campus in Buxton – this will be developed into an international centre of excellence in the areas of tourism and hospitality, and so we welcome the opportunity to work with Hylte and Fyresdal."

This is an archived press release

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