This is an archived press release
Tuesday 4 March 2008
4 March 2008
International project is BESST for businesses
An international business conference is to be held to mark the end of a Peak District National Park Authority-led project to boost tourism and promote care for the environment in three countries.
The European Union-funded BESST (Business and the Environment linked through Small Scale Tourism) project brought together businesses and local authorities from the Peak District, Hylte in Sweden and Fyresdal in Norway.
Business owners took part in international exchanges and local meetings to share ideas and look at opportunities to make the most of their surroundings and local traditions.
Since taking part in the BESST project businesses have developed new products and services gaining extra orders and new customers.
The international event to mark the end of the project will be held at Beechenhill Farm in Ilam, near Ashbourne, from March 10 to 12.
Andrew Marchington, chair of the services committee at the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “BESST has provided a focus on tourism with an environmental and international twist - that has united different interests and generated a great sense of local pride in the three areas.
“The project has successfully helped businesses see that the environment is a great business asset.
“It has boosted the rural economies of the three areas and encouraged care for the environment. We estimate it has generated more than £3 million of investment by businesses and public authorites during the five years of the project.
“Importantly it has brought people together from the public and private sectors and developed new working relationships and networks. The inspirational effect and connections that have been made will last long after the project ends.”
For the final international business exchange Peak District businesses are to host a three-day visit from their Scandinavian counterparts. They will be talking about their experiences and how they can continue to build on their successes.
BESST project officers and local politicians from the three countries will also be there to discuss how local authorities working closely with rural business communities can boost the local economy to the benefit of residents, visitors and the environment.
Through their experience with the BESST project, the owners of Beechenhill Farm have been inspired to diversify their farm holiday business to now offer accommodation with an outdoor hot tub.
Terry Prince, of Beechenhill organic dairy farm, said: “The BESST project has inspired us to think about what we can do to make the most of our fantastic location to complement our farm holiday accommodation.
“After visiting Sweden we installed a genuine Swedish outdoor hot tub which guests can hire at any time of year. We also discovered that the everyday things that we do routinely on the farm can be interesting and exciting for our visitors – so now they can arrange to milk the cows with us.
“Meeting other business owners in the Peak District, Sweden and Norway refreshed our ideas about the way we work. The BESST project has encouraged us to learn from other businesses experiences and develop new activities, which brings customers back for more and is attracting new guests too.”
The BESST project has also involved the creation of new routes for walkers and cyclists and the production of guide books and information leaflets to promote walking, cycling and fishing in the three countries taking part. People are encouraged to stop or shop at rural businesses, like Beechenhill Farm, on the various routes.
Although the BESST project ends on March 31, the Peak District National Park Authority will continue its work to support the rural economy and look for opportunities to get extra European funding.