Getting on the map of Britain

A trio of lesser-known holiday regions have gained EU funding for an initiative that could provide a model for how to promote tourism in remote areas. Mark MacKenzie reports

In today's cut-throat tourist market, just how do remote parts of rural Europe - especially areas where the economy is in freefall - compete with the multi-national operators?

One solution is to make the most of those assets they do have and attract customers who enjoy an authentic experience. Which, roughly, is the thinking behind Besst, an initiative to promote small-scale sustainable tourism through collaboration between Europe's less obvious holiday destinations.

The scheme, Business and the Environment linked through Small Scale Tourism, does what it says on the tin. And at the end of last month, the part-EU funded project launched its official website.

The online resource,, offers around 100 local "experiences", from beekeeping in the Peak District to sheep herding in Norway. Approved in February 2004, the €2.1m (£1.5m) initiative sees two of Europe's lesser-known holiday regions, Hylte in southern Sweden and Fyresdal in central Norway, pool expertise with Britain's Peak District National Park in a bid to boost visitor numbers.

All three have native wilderness and distinctive regional cultures, but none would claim to be first-choice destinations. Besst hopes to change that. Heading the charge in the UK is Ken Parker, project leader for Besst in the Peak District National Park. "We want to use tourism as a motor for economic development and regeneration," he said. "Rather than seeing tourists as a burden, we're encouraging [the regions] to appreciate the market and use unique local assets to promote business."

Hylte, Fyresdal and the Peak District have experienced mixed fortunes. The 550 square-mile Peaks attract 22m visitors a year, but the spend per head is low compared with other tourist areas. Hylte has struggled as its forestry industry declined due to competition from the Balkans. Fyresdal offers neither skiing nor fjords, and is battling to stem the flow of its young people to the cities.

So far, 37 Peak District businesses have signed up to Besst, with a further 15 in Fyresdal and 13 in Hylte. "In almost all cases we're talking about small family-based operations," said Mr Parker, "b&bs, outdoor-activity providers, craft industries and so on."

The scheme gives small tourism businesses the chance to meet and exchange ideas. On a visit to Sweden, one Peak District beekeeper was persuaded to launch a Meet the Bees project after a Swedish apiarist suggested he market himself as well as his honey. For around £20 he now offers beekeeping demonstrations. Another Besst member, a caravan park owner in the Peaks, has developed a fishing lake on his property to attract anglers - a common practice in Scandinavia.

"In the UK we have something called the Farm Holiday Group," said Mr Parker, "an alliance of providers that collaborate and market each other. This was a completely new idea to the Scandinavians." Besst has encouraged the Swedes to make a feature of Hylte's local history: tourism authorities are looking at developing a walk following the area's border with Denmark, much like the Hadrian's Wall trail in the UK.

The emphasis on eco-tourism means members have to meet environmental standards on accommodation, litter and pollution, and pass an audit. "There is a strong eco-tourism element because as an organisation we've agreed to make the most of our natural assets," said Mr Parker. "We can't compete with Spain for sun or Scotland for golf, so we have to use what is unique to our regions."

Food businesses have responded well. Through the Besst website you can arrange to eat hot oatcakes in the Peaks or wild boar in Hylte. "It's about opening people's eyes to making the most of their resources," said Mr Parker. "The idea is to bring together business development and conservation to act as partners, rather than the conflict that traditionally exists between them."

For more information on Besst experiences go to

Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Recruitment Genius: Processing Partner

    £15000 - £19200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Processing Partner is require...

    Recruitment Genius: PPC Manager - SW London

    £34000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist travel agent ba...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower