Gloucestershire’s leading food and drink quality marque partners with the Countryside and Community Research Institute, under the banner of the new National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise – NICRE.
Cotswold Taste and the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) based at the University of Gloucestershire and Royal Agricultural University have announced they are to work together on several major ‘Agri-food Tourist’ Trails across the county in 2020-21.
The move is intended to support Gloucestershire’s food and drink-driven sectors – producers, retailers and hospitality outlets – during and after the current COVID-19 crisis.
Agri-food tourism’ trails are a big tourist attraction in various countries and other parts of the UK, but this will be the first time they have been tried in Gloucestershire.
“We’re delighted to be playing our part in helping hard-pressed businesses at the present time”, says Nick Waloff, Executive Chair of Cotswold Taste, the originators of the idea. “We need to be doing much more to make the most of what we have in the county.” he adds. “Trails like this can showcase the wealth of local, quality food and drink we offer“.
The universities will support research and development activities for several trails which Cotswold Taste is keen to see launched – one along the Stroud-Stonehouse section of the Stroudwater Canal, and two others at early planning stages.
The Stroud-Stonehouse Agri-food Tourist Trail will be the first to be created. “We’ll be looking for support from other stakeholders and interested parties” says Nick.
The trails will be among the flagship innovation projects part-supported through seed funding from the new National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE). The Gloucestershirebased universities are part of a wider partnership in NICRE with Newcastle and Warwick Universities.
“Most important of all,” stresses Nick, “we need to involve our local communities and their representatives in what promises to be an exciting initiative – one which can help all of us“.
The CCRI’s Dr. Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins, operational lead for NICRE across the South West of England, comments: “We’re looking forward to working with Cotswold Taste to bring this new initiative to fruition. NICRE offers a real opportunity for research and enterprise to join forces in making a stepchange for our rural economy.”
Agri-food Tourism Trails in other parts of the UK come in a variety of forms, but all seek to highlight the role that local food and drink plays in shaping experiences and opportunities for visitors to enjoy and understand something they would not otherwise encounter.
Planning for the trails is at an early stage, and is being advised by a group of organisations and businesses drawn from across Gloucestershire and involved in the county’s tourism activities, farming, wildlife and nature conservation, and food and drink offering.
In particular, Cotswold Taste and CCRI will be working closely with the county’s lead tourism organisation, Visit Gloucestershire Partnership, which has provided support and encouragement for the project since its inception.
“This project is an example of great collaboration and we look forward to seeing this on sale in the New Year” says Steve Gardner-Collins, Visit Gloucestershire Partnership’s Chair. “Visit Gloucestershire has been busy preparing and contributing to the recovery of our county’s recovery. 2021 is about revival and together the sector can bring forward even more great reasons to visit.“