Revealing the local magic

The BESST project (Business and the Environment linked through Small Scale Tourism) is based on an innovative approach to developing the tourism potential of rural and urban areas transnationally in the UK, Norway and Sweden. The aim includes preserving local identities, restoring prosperity and ensuring environmental protection. Guidebooks, heritage walks and fish farming are just some of the inspiring results of BESST.

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Tourism in rural and urban areas actively promoted under the BESST project Tourism in rural and urban areas actively promoted under the BESST project

“BESST has been both an inspiration and a source of enthusiasm and has contributed to our success”
Felicity Brown, Hoe Grange Holidays, Peak District, England

Traditional industries in the North Sea region have suffered a major decline in recent years, and following on from this, less investment and job opportunities. By following the project notion of a ‘virtuous spiral’, as opposed to a ‘vicious circle’, local businesses, authorities and citizens are rediscovering the magic, beauty and economic potential of their surroundings.

Regional revival

The project covers a mix of rural, urban and lakeland areas. However, one thing they all have in common is unique tourism potential. This has since proved to be a driver of new business activities, such as the ‘Meet the Bees” tourism destination in the Peak District National Park, England, attracting curious visitors from far and wide. The virtuous spiral approach has unveiled what is special in the region and is illustrated in the practice guidebook ‘Special Places, Special People’, a publication also promoted through regional, national and EU policymakers.

Paving the way to dynamic growth

Farmers, shopkeepers, craft workers and construction companies are actively engaged in looking towards new horizons for growth and development. BESST project leader, Ken Parker, believes BESST has revealed the magic of the region, with people finding inspiration to follow through on their ambitions, all the while complying with strict guidelines, including quality standards. For instance, the Information Octagon in Femsjö, Sweden was built to benefit visitors and local communities as it tells many stories of Femsjö’s history which in turn offers opportunities for businesses to make the most of, while in Fyresdal, Norway, what was once a traditional farm has now been converted into a fish farm and includes a shop for visitors offering local products. In the UK, hotels, pubs and restaurants have also been encouraged to use new walks developed by local authorities as part of their marketing strategy to customers and guests.

It doesn’t stop there

At national level, the project has been recognised as one of the reasons for population growth and positive development in Fyresdal, Sweden. Due to its transnational and cooperative approach, international exchanges were designed to stimulate the range of activities simultaneously held in three places and to allow the partners to share the lessons learned. Looking ahead, links between the three regions, creative business solutions, social networks and economic dynamism look set to continue in an upward spiral.

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