Published: 09:42, 04 June 2018
| Updated: 09:44, 04 June 2018
Tourism minister Michael Ellis raised a glass to celebrate English Wine Week as he made a special trip to learn more of Kent's thriving food and drink tourism industry.
The parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport paid a visit to Chapel Down Winery, in Smallhythe, near Tenterden to hear about new projects to boost wine tourism and England’s food and drink offer to domestic and international markets.
He met with CEO of tourism champions Visit Kent, Sandra Matthews-Marsh, and Chapel Down CEO Frazer Thompson for a tour of the working winery and the vines.
The minister also met representatives from other leading Kent vineyards, including Charles Simpson of Simpsons Wine Estate and James Osborn of Squerryes, as well as VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes.
His visit was an opportunity to gather updates on the new Wine Garden of England partnership and the extensive work underway on the international Gourmet Gardens Trail project supported by VisitEngland’s Discover England Fund (DEF), and led by Visit Kent.
English Wine Week concluded on Sunday.
Mr Ellis said: "English Wine Week is about championing British produce and helping to position our growing wine industry as a new tourist attraction. Through our Discover England Fund, we are supporting the Wine Garden of England to increase international visitors to the region and raise awareness of Kent's incredible vineyards."
CEO of Visit Kent Sandra Matthews-Marsh added: “We were delighted to welcome the minister to Kent, to not only celebrate English Wine Week but to also see what we and partners are doing to promote England’s food and drink offer to the world.
“We should all raise a collective glass to England’s prowess as a world-class wine producer this week, because this ever-growing enthusiasm for our wine and fresh produce demonstrates the incredible opportunities food and drink tourism can offer the UK.”
The three-year £40million Discover England Fund is a central government funded programme of activity that aims to support the growing tourism industry by offering more world-class English tourism products to international markets.
Visit Kent, and its trading company Go To Places, is the lead partner in the Gourmet Gardens Trail project, which received £1million of DEF support this year to launch a series of new bookable itineraries showcasing England’s gardens, accommodation, food outlets, vineyards and breweries initially to visitors from Germany and the Netherlands.
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