Project pioneered at Stoke Rochford is up for a national tourism award

Stoke Rochford guests with Just Jane at East Kirkby.
Stoke Rochford guests with Just Jane at East Kirkby.
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A tourism project pioneered near Grantham is up for a national award using aviation heritage as a banner for showcasing both the district and wider Lincolnshire.

The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage project highlights a ‘Bomber County’ rich in heroic aviation experiences, iconic heritage buildings and superb accommodation.

It is nominated for the Innovation in Tourism Award at the annual Group Travel Awards at a prestigious industry event in London on Friday, organised by Group Travel Organiser magazine (GTO).

The event pitches Lincolnshire amongst top travel names as Virgin Atlantic and P&O Cruises.

The project started last autumn, when South Kesteven District Council worked with Stoke Rochford Hall to host group travel operators for visits to major county aviation sites.

SKDC has now joined Visit Lincoln, the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre, International Bomber Command Centre and Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire to extend the project county-wide.

Partners exhibited at the British Tourism and Travel Show in March with a ‘Welcome to Lincolnshire’ stand – impressing GTO editorial director Peter Stonham.

Peter joined last October’s Stoke Rochford tour, visiting RAF Scampton, Lincoln’s International Bomber Command Centre and seeing Lancaster aircraft Just Jane taxy at East Kirkby.

Travel operators heard about South Kesteven’s own rich international aviation heritage, including Grantham’s Second World War role as Bomber Command HQ and American Pathfinder troops flying from RAF North Witham on the eve of D-Day.

Nicky Barr, director at the International Bomber Command Centre, said: “Peter was clearly sold on what Lincolnshire could offer from the October tour. He then visited our stand at the NEC and was hugely impressed with our concept of working together.”

SKDC’s strategic director Steve Ingram added: “We are committed to promoting tourism as a key part of our visitor economy, worth some £165m annually to South Kesteven.

“It’s very exciting to be working with some amazing partners and a shared vision of using aviation heritage as the flag to wave for the district as the gateway to Lincolnshire.

“The NEC response from the industry was really positive and we look forward to developing ideas. It allows us to show off all our major visitor attractions under the project banner.”

Commenting about the award nomination, Lydia Rusling, head of Visit Lincoln, said: “I’m delighted to see Lincolnshire nominated for an award alongside the likes of Eurostar, P&O Cruises, Virgin Atlantic and other giants of the travel industry. It proves that Lincolnshire is among the top destinations in the UK.

“The aviation offer not only captured the attention of the judges, but also the interest of influential group travel operators who have the ability to bring more coach tours and visitors to Lincolnshire next year, as the country celebrates the centenary of the RAF.”