Communities across the country have been encouraged to apply for a share of a new £150,000 fund to champion regional food and drink.
Local partnerships – which could include community groups, trade bodies and National Parks – can apply for grants and create a network of new foodie tourist trails.
The fund has been set up by Defra’s Great British Food Unit, and was unveiled by environment secretary Elizabeth Truss at the Great Yorkshire Show.
According to Visit Britain, food is a major factor in deciding where to visit for a third of all visitors.
New research published this week also shows the importance of food and drink in attracting tourists to rural areas, with £5.7 billion spent by visitors to rural areas in 2013.
Yorkshire is a top destination for foodie tourists from around the world and recent figures revealed that tourism in the county contributed £3.2 billion of the overall £59 billion that the tourism sector generated last year.
Truss said: “Food is at the heart of our culture and we want it to be at the heart of our tourism trade too.
“Across the nation we have seen how great food can transform a region – imagine Cornwall without the celebrated pasty, or Whitby without its iconic fish and chips.
“It creates wealth, jobs and opportunity.”
Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, added: “Yorkshire has some of the best food and drink producers in the world; from Michelin-starred restaurants, to award-winning breweries and artisan food producers.
“I would encourage Yorkshire’s growers, suppliers and producers to bid, through Welcome to Yorkshire, for this funding to continue to grow and showcase the region’s fantastic culinary offering to the world and shout about our Yorkshire food identity.”
Defra’s new fund is part of the wider Great British Food Campaign, launched by Truss at the beginning of the year to drive growth and jobs in the sector and establish Britain’s reputation as a “great food nation”.
Pictured is Betty’s Tea Room in York, by Welcome to Yorkshire.