Leg up for equestrian tourism in Devon

PUBLISHED: 12:27 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 08:31 18 June 2010

PILOT schemes to boost the county s economy by tapping into the potentially highly lucrative equestrian tourism market are being set up by Devon County Council.

PILOT schemes to boost the county's economy by tapping into the potentially highly lucrative equestrian tourism market are being set up by Devon County Council.

The idea is to create recreational horse riding networks of full and half day circular routes to assist the growth and development of associated rural businesses including horse-friendly B & Bs, camping barns and riding schools.

The schemes are to be trialled in three of the county's most scenic areas - Ruby Country, the Blackdown Hills and the area around Tavistock and Bere Ferrers.

These areas have been selected to boost the economy and to link the network of bridleways, restricted byways, unsurfaced county roads and rural off-road cycle routes which could become multi-user routes. Local landowners, parish councils and horse riders will be involved in identifying routes that provide safe off-road links.

The County Council plans to use £250,000 of the money it received from the sale of Exeter International Airport to fund the project. It is hoped a network of trails can be set up by 2012.

The pilot schemes are being promoted by the chairman of the Public Rights of Way Committee County Councillor Joe Tucker.

"Horse riding is an enjoyable, popular and sustainable leisure activity which keeps people healthy," he said. "Devon has the natural resources needed to develop a thriving recreational horse riding network, and this will enable us to promote Devon as the premier county for equestrian tourism.

"The county is already recognised by the horse riding community's 'bible' Horse & Hound magazine as the 'horsiest county in the land'. Equestrian tourism already generates more than £30million to Devon's economy. Through these pilot schemes we can help existing and new equine tourism businesses reach their full potential.

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