National Forest vision aims to create 700 jobs

A 10-year plan to develop tourism in the National Forest aims to deliver new attractions, additional accommodation and festivals.

It is hoped that the plan will increase visitor spending by at least 15% and create 700 new jobs in the forest, which covers 200 square miles of the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

Tourism in the forest currently supports more than 4,700 jobs, attracts more than 7.8 million visitors a year and contributes £376 million to the local economy.

James Berresford, former VisitEngland chief executive and National Forest tourism champion, launched the plan.

He said: “The new Tourism Growth Plan expresses the National Forest’s aspirations to be at the cutting edge of innovation and sustainability in rural tourism.”

John Everitt, National Forest Company chief executive, added: “The plan highlights opportunities to create a very special woodland place, developing distinctive visitor experiences that bring our brand to life for our target markets and communicating what makes the forest extraordinary.

“New investment opportunities for green growth include new forest-related attractions, additional high-quality accommodation in a woodland setting, and events and festivals that harness the appeal of the National Forest.”

The first part of the plan will be to develop a new Forest Festival, a four-day event that will bring visitors and communities together.

The National Forest was created more than 20 years ago to stimulate business, leisure, tourism and educational activity.