Join our new Countryside Experience Development Programme to help diversify your business.
The EXPERIENCE Development Programmes delivered by Visit Kent and the Kent Downs AONB will provide expert support for businesses, individuals and organisations to develop new off-season Tourism Experiences.
Our Kent Downs Countryside Experience Development Programme welcomes applications from rural tourism businesses that live or work in the Kent Downs AONB or along the North Downs Way who want to build experiences based on landscape, wildlife or rural life and culture. So if you'd like to attract more outdoor enthusiasts to your business and/or you have a fabulous sustainable tourism idea then read on and find out more. Sorry, applications are now closed but will re-open in September. Join our mailing list to get the latest business news and updates about the EXPERIENCE programme.
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The Kent Downs Countryside Experience Development Programme
Our programme is designed to help existing and budding new rural businesses to develop incredible experiences for visitors to the Kent Downs and North Downs Way. We've set out some of the key requirements and eligibility criteria below.
Apply in September!
Applications closed on 5th March but will re-open in September so watch this space.
What's in it for you?
If you become a Kent Downs Countryside Experience you will benefit from;
- Support through the whole process from various experts.
- Being part of the Kent Downs Countryside Experience Collection. With the recognition and tourism value of a nationally designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Opportunities to diversify your business model with support.
- Free consumer marketing promotion through Kent Downs AONB and National Trails, featuring in targeted seasonal campaigns.
- Distribution of your product through international and domestic travel trade where appropriate.
- Connections and networking with cross-sector rural and tourism businesses through the Kent Downs and Visit Kent networks.
All at no cost to your business.
Experience Maker Workshops
Expert guidance on how to turn your idea into reality and access to our Experience Maker
1-2-1 Expert Consultation
Helping you refine your experience and support with any launch or implementation problems you might face along the way.
Product & Market Testing
Market testing of your concept with consumers and travel trade providing valuable data on key audiences, creative and messages that work.
Using our experience of the market we can support you with content writing, photography, campaign planning and promotion.
Launch & Promotion
Support with taking your experience to market through our marketing and partner channels and the option to be including in project campaigns.
Equipment Grant Applications Open
We've launched a new equipment grant scheme of up to £3k with Kent Downs EXPERIENCE project funding 69% of the cost of EXPERIENCE equipment. This is open to businesses that have been accepted on;
So if you meet these criteria and need help to fund equipment as part of your new experience apply today.
We held our introductory webinar on the 11th February led by Chris Brant from Unmissable England. He explained more about the programme, what makes a great experience and how you can work with us to turn your idea into a reality.
Don't worry, if you missed it you can watch the video recording on this page or by clicking the button below...
What do we ask for in return?
Please see below a summary of the key criteria we'll be using to select businesses most suitable for the programme, you'll find fuller details in our application information.
All applicants must...
• Commit to our ‘Promise to the Landscape’ and show desire to respect and help protect the landscape.
• Operate in the Kent Downs AONB or within 5km or 3 miles from the North Downs Way National Trail.
• Complete relevant awareness training e.g., Kent Downs and North Downs Way landscape awareness and ‘Welcoming Walkers and Cyclists’ training within 6 months of signing up. These will be available online.
• Ensure their product is open and operating all year round or have the potential to do so.
• Dedicate sufficient time and resources to developing the product, commit to 121s and contribute to marketing and promotions.
To find out more about the EXPERIENCE project for visitors and businesses visit our EXPERIENCE project page or for more information about the many benefits to businesses, organisations and individuals with a passion for nature then check out our Business Information page.
How can you get involved?
Sorry, applications are now closed but will re-open again in September. For now you can register your interest by completing this contact form and joining our business mailing list.
If you have any queries in the meantime please contact Rebecca Rees at the Kent Downs AONB, Rebecca.email@example.com.
18 January - Applications open
February - Q&A workshop
5 March - Deadline for Applications
12 March - Notification to successful applicants
29th March - Grant applications open for accepted applicants
31st March & 26th April - Experience Maker workshops
May/June - Experience Development 121's
September - Round Two Applications open
Complete the below form to register your interest
We'd love to hear from you!
We want visitors to respect, protect and enjoy our beautiful Kent countryside to find their space for the nature and the outdoors combined with a range of excited new experiences.
Can you walk the walk and talk the talk along the North Downs Way National Trail? We're working with Pied-a-Terre Adventures to find new ambassadors who want to run walking tours along this wonderful trail in Kent and Surrey. This could be as a hobby or the start of a new business venture. No experience necessary other than a love of being outdoors and sharing local highlights with visitors. We'll provide a programme of free training to support you ending in an assessment and final confirmation that you are a North Downs Way Ambassador.
To find out more visit our web page or watch our webinar to find out more. Round 1 applications close on 20th August. We hope to hear from you soon.
NetWalking Kent Downs is a FREE outdoor networking event bringing together local businesses interested in welcoming and promoting outdoor activity in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), within 5km of the North Downs Way or within White Cliffs Country (Dover, Deal & Sandwich).
Enjoy a hot drink while you hear about support initiatives available to you us at the Kent Downs AONB Unit, the EXPERIENCE Project, and White Cliffs Country, the marketing and tourism arm of Dover District Council, before walking about 5 kilometres (3 miles) along the stunning White Cliffs from St Margaret’s Bay beyond South Foreland lighthouse and back, returning to the popular Pines Garden Tearooms for a socially distant light lunch of local produce.
How is EXPERIENCE funded?
EXPERIENCE is a €23m project co-funded by the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme, which has committed €16m from the European Regional Development. Projects are funded in six areas across England and France: Norfolk, Kent, Cornwall, Pas-de-Calais, Compiègne and Brittany. Close collaboration across the six regional projects ensures insights and best practice are shared.
EXPERIENCE in Kent is match funded by:
Ashford Borough Council
Canterbury City Council
Dover District Council
Folkestone & Hythe District Council
Gravesham Borough Council
Kent County Council
Thanet District Council
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Swale Borough Council