NOTTINGHAMSHIRE is set to lead a new project to attract more American visitors to the area in partnership with Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, Visit Hampshire and Shakespeare’s England.

The Fund is a central government funded programme of activity, supported by match funding by partners in the public and private sectors.

Focusing on the US travel trade, the project aims to explore the demand for increased literary themed visits to England, introducing new ideas for itineraries and presenting them to US tour operators to sell in their programmes.

Brendan Moffett, chief executive of Visit Nottinghamshire said: “This is fantastic news for Nottinghamshire and we’re thrilled to have been awarded this opportunity to test the market to see if there’s an appetite for US tourists to explore our literary legends and their attractions, including DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum and Newstead Abbey.

“The concept behind the project is based on research from VisitBritain, which has found that more than a third of overseas visitors want to see places from film and literature, and that almost half visited museums, art galleries, castles or historic houses – demonstrating the significance of the UK’s heritage and culture.

“As part of this project, additional research will be commissioned to test if there is a real market for more literary themed visits, and we plan on making the most of this opportunity for Nottinghamshire to learn from experts in this field such as the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Museum and Jane Austen’s House Museum.”

As a UNESCO City of Literature, Nottingham is committed to promoting its literary history on a global stage, including working to attract literary tourism to the city and inspiring people to enjoy reading and writing.

Sandeep Mahal, director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Nottingham said: “Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature is delighted to be working in partnership with Visit Nottinghamshire on this project and to see the development of the city’s literary tourism offering.

“Nottingham is truly blessed with our literary credentials and we see this project as a real opportunity for tourism operators to create and deliver literary tourism experiences.”

Andrew Bateman, tourism manager at Visit Hampshire said: “We’re really excited to be collaborating with Nottinghamshire and Shakespeare’s England on this project as it will enable us to build on this year’s wonderful Jane Austen 200th anniversary commemorations and continue to raise the profile of Hampshire and its most famous author with the US travel trade.”

Helen Peters, chief executive of Shakespeare’s England said: “Shakespeare’s England is delighted to be part of the England’s Literary Greats Discover England Fund project. When you think of English literary icons, there are few that would be considered greater than William Shakespeare. We hope this project will encourage visitors to the UK to discover the wonders of Hampshire, Nottingham and Warwickshire as they walk in the footsteps of their literary heroes.”

Trials of the project began at a trade show organised by VisitBritain in September called ‘Destination Britain North America’, where representatives from each destination met with over 50 tour operators and travel organisers to get their initial feedback on the concept. A high profile travel trade and media visit for American travel press will also be arranged, with journalists sampling some of the itineraries.

Sally Balcombe, chief executive of VisitEngland said: “The calibre of submissions reflects the innovation in product development thriving across the country’s tourism landscape. The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth, creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England. Our research shows that literature is a powerful motivator for travel with books firing up our imagination and inspiring us to explore the locations and landscapes in our favourite stories.

“Visit Nottinghamshire’s winning project showcases the outstanding locations packaged together on this touring route, giving visitors the opportunity to discover the ‘real England’ as they take a literary pilgrimage, uncovering the cultural and rural charm of the country.”

To find out more about the Discover England Fund and the winning bids, visit…