England’s Waterways is a three-year, £1.4m regional leisure tourism project, which has supported regional businesses to access distribution channels offered by the travel trade, develop new visitor experiences, and market this product through relationships with inbound tour operators and agents. It focuses primarily on the German and Dutch markets, but also exploits opportunities both domestically, and in other relevant overseas markets.

The West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC) is working closely with grant partners VisitBritain / VisitEngland and other public and private sector stakeholders to deliver collaborative marketing and promotion in the target countries.

To date, the project has developed and launched three product pillars to the trade, including holidays on the water with Drifters, the narrowboat hire consortium partners, through the website greatbritishboating.com. The project also promotes walking and cycling holidays featuring the canals and waterways of the region, and cultural city breaks as a standalone offer, or as part of the start or end of a longer holiday.

The project site englandswaterways.com contains promotional assets – including images, videos and itineraries – which operators, agents and partners can use to raise awareness of the region overseas and promote the product.

To date, the England’s Waterways team has:

  • Run 10 business development workshops across the region
  • Supported 20 businesses to develop new experiences for the trade
  • Attended nine travel trade and press shows and missions, in Frankfurt, Utrecht, The Hague, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich and London, holding meetings with more than 100 trade and press contacts
  • Kept partners up to date with monthly newsletters
  • Featured product for sale with a German and a Dutch tour operator
  • Contracted five overseas agents to sell narrow boating product through the Great British Boating website
  • Developed 10 new itineraries for independent travellers and group markets
  • Created supporting collateral including destination and product promotional films, and trade and consumer brochures to help sell the heart of England 

The following final six months of the project will focus on:

  • Creating more partnerships with tour operators
  • Achieving press coverage in the project’s target countries to raise the region’s profile with overseas visitors
  • Hosting trade and press FAM (educational) trips
  • Collaborative marketing with selected tour operators 
  • Designing activity to ensure the most successful areas of the project continue to function well for the region after it has ended

Please contact Project Manager Zoey Harris (zoey.harris@wmgrowth.com) if you would like to get involved with press or familiarisation trips, sign up for the England’s Waterways monthly newsletter or become a partner to make use of the project’s promotional assets, to help sell the region.

Play your part in writing the region's story...

Find out more