Around 100 delegates have attended a major rural tourism event to help make connections and grow their businesses.
Held at the Rix Pavilion, at Driffield Showground, the event encouraged those attending to network with each other and with a wide range of organisations that share the same aim of increasing the number of visitors to the area and celebrate locally produced food and drink.
Delegates heard from inspirational explorer and BBC presenter Paul Rose who talked about his career, including his time as the base commander of the Rothera Research Station in Antarctica, his current work with National Geographic and his love of the Yorkshire Wolds.
Paul said: "It was a real pleasure to speak at such a positive event and to hear from so many local businesses that share a common ambition – to make the East Riding and the Wolds a first-class visitor destination."
A number of local rural tourism businesses described how being a member of a business network helped their business to grow.
Caroline Sellers established her organic farm and bakery business, the Side Oven Bakery at Foston-on-the-Wolds, 15 years ago.
She said: "We found networking important right from the start; people are generous with advice and help. As a small business, you can often feel alone and that is why it is so nice to have that support network. Connecting with each other helps our businesses to grow."
Delegates were also updated on current and forthcoming promotional activity associated with developing the rural East Riding tourism market.
The presentations encouraged a great deal of positive feedback as well as ideas from delegates, which underlined the key role rural business networks play in supporting local businesses to thrive and in developing the wider East Riding rural economy.
Councillor Jane Evison, cabinet portfolio holder for transforming lifestyles at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: "Running a small business in the East Riding can be a real challenge due, in part, to the rural nature of our area."By hosting events such as this, the council is able to provide important information, advice and support on a whole range of topics and these can make a real difference in helping a small rural business to thrive and expand – which in turn benefits the local economy."
Councillor Richard Burton, cabinet portfolio holder for leisure tourism and culture, said: "Nature tourism is a growing part of the visitor offer in the East Riding, from the Yorkshire Wolds Way to the seabird colonies of RSPB Bempton. "Our area has some of the most diverse landscapes anywhere in the UK and the council remains committed to supporting businesses that help showcase the region to the world."
Any businesses interested in finding out more about the benefits of joining the East Yorkshire Local Food Network or the Yorkshire Wolds Tourism Network, which are both free to join, should contact Julia Soukup, rural projects officer at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, at email@example.com
A selection of images from the Making Connections to grow your Rural Tourism Business event at the Rix Pavilion, Driffield Showground.