CHESHIRE’S distinctive villages and picturesque countryside have become a major selling point to holidaymakers.
The county is a popular hub of diverse leisure and relaxation breaks in scenic old- fashioned countryside.
Major attractions Chester, Chester Zoo, Blue Planet Aquarium, Liverpool’s Albert Dock and Cheshire Oaks are all within driving distance.
As a brand, Cheshire is hailed as an “untapped” resource with a price tag worth hundreds of millions to its rural economy.
Now a huge collective effort is refining Cheshire’s diverse tourism themes – food, adventure, relaxation, leisure.
Hotel refurbishments, upgrading B&Bs, luxury spas, head-hunting of talented chefs, sourcing quality local foods and bounteous provision of adventure and activity is paying dividends.
Latest Government figures show overseas tourists spent £112m in Cheshire in 2006 – 22% more than 2005.
The number of international visitors to the county soared by 15% from 343,000 to 396,000 while foreign tourists’ overnights added up to almost 2.12 million, 17% up on the previous year’s 1.81 million.
Tourism operators have formed a seamless network of ‘destination’ experiences from golf, adventure parks, rambling, canal boating and cycling to horse trailing, fishing, clay pigeon shooting, quad biking and fine dining.
The county now has scope for ‘itinerary’ holidays where tourists can select a range of experiences from budget to luxury pamper breaks.
Visit Chester and Cheshire Chairman Mike Cooksley believes the county’s rural escapes have potential to become one of Britain’s finest destinations for ‘getaway breaks’.
He said: “The diversity of what we have in Cheshire is starting to come into play. There is massive potential.”