A NEW strategy to develop tourism across the Cotswolds is being drawn up.

A partnership has been formed to lead the project, involving the Cotswold Conservation Board, which manages the area of outstanding natural beauty, West Oxfordshire District Council and its Gloucestershire partner Cotswold District Council, the councils in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury, and representatives of tourist businesses.

Tourism is worth about £1bn a year to the local economy across the Cotswolds.

In 2012, the latest year for which figures are available, tourism brought in £268.2m in West Oxfordshire, with more than 4.2 million visits made to the district.

More than 4,800 jobs in the district are linked to tourism.

A new destination management plan for the Cotswolds will set out a vision for tourism and key priorities for action to increase the value of tourism to the local economy, communities and the environment, and enhance the region’s performance as a top visitor destination in England.

The Cotswolds currently rank sixth in the list of the most popular destinations. Cornwall heads the list, followed by the Lake District, Devon, London and Yorkshire.

Businesses and organisations involved in tourism across the Cotswolds have been consulted on a draft version of the plan.

The move follows the Cotswolds Tourism Forum last year where VisitEngland and industry representatives agreed to support moves to bring the private and public sectors together to help the area achieve its full potential as a destination.

The fragmenation of local government across the area was identified as a key issue, which meant it was being marketed with multiple brands, confusing potential visitors.

Jason Freezer, the head of destination management at Visit-England, said: “The Cotswolds are one of England’s most popular visitor destinations, with the potential to generate significant income from both domestic and international visitors.

“We’re fully behind the new plan and are looking forward to working towards the development of a new partnership.”

The new partnership plans to promote both the countryside and the market towns and wants to co-operate with Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath.

Susie Hunt, of Batsford Arboretum, near Moreton-in-Marsh, said: “As a tourism business located in Gloucestershire, but close to the Oxfordshire and Warwickshire borders, we welcome a more co-ordinated approach across the region and one which understands the needs of businesses like ours.

“A single plan for the Cotswolds makes a great deal of sense for both the industry and, importantly, our visitors.”

  • For more information and to download the draft Cotswolds destination management plan, see cotswoldsaonb.org.uk