press release
Published: 25 September 2019

€23.3m sustainability project to boost low season travel in the French-English Channel

By Laura Butler

Interreg has awarded €23.3m funding to the University of Surrey and their EXPERIENCE consortium partners to deliver an impactful sustainable growth project to maximise experiential tourism in the French-English Channel region.

Interreg France (Channel) England (FCE) is a European Union (EU) programme established to foster economic development in the south of the UK and the north of France by funding innovative projects to create sustainable cross-border benefits.

One of the largest sustainable tourism strategies to be funded by the European Regional Development Fund, this project aims to reduce seasonality and increase visitors in the October to March period by developing sustainable tourism that boosts the economy, contributes to healthy year-round communities and preserves the environment.

The FCE region currently uses a conventional destination-based tourism approach during the peak holiday season. Experiential tourism, by contrast, is a growing travel trend based on regional uniqueness, with travellers seeking off-the-beaten-track ‘live like a local’ authentic experiences throughout the year. Regions both inside and outside the EU have shifted from destination-based approaches to successfully embrace this new experiential trend and extend the travel season, but the FCE region remains undiscovered by experiential travellers despite its abundant potential.

Focusing initially on trialling the strategy in Brittany, Pas-de-Calais, Compiègne, Norfolk, Kent and Cornwall, the project will facilitate training to enable tourism offices to recognise their unique regional selling points and harness them to create exciting off-season travel itineraries. They will consider ways in which the regional summer tourism infrastructure can be adapted for off-season use and work to promote the FCE region for experiential tourism between October and March.

Professor of Sustainability Marketing Xavier Font, from the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, is the Principal Investigator on this project for the University of Surrey. He said: “As the only university in the EXPERIENCE consortium we will be offering our tourism expertise, working alongside regional governments and non-profit organisations to develop a new tourism strategy for the FCE region. Our observations of successes with experiential tourism in other countries will help shape our strategy to meet modern expectations and increase competitiveness in the global tourism market to attract off-season visitors to the FCE region.”

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