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    Britain's up-and-coming holiday hot-spots are relying on beeches rather than beaches for their pulling power, according to one of the UK's biggest finance arrangers for buyers of holiday properties.

    According to IMFS Leisure, the new rising stars of tourism are counties with a strong rural appeal where the accent is on unspoiled landscapes and activities such as walking and pony trekking.

    The company looked at which of Britain's regions in 2010 recorded the biggest rises in popularity among holiday homes buyers, compared with previous years.

    Chester-based IMFS Leisure named the top five county champions as Shropshire, Derbyshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Essex and Northumberland.

    "Favourite tourist destinations such as the West Country, Cumbria, North Wales and the Highlands all held firm with holiday home buyers in 2010," said company marketing manager Jane Whittle.

    "But we were interested to discover the stalking horses amongst Britain's eighty-six counties which were quietly wooing visitors away from the traditional honeypots.

    "Although some of the five do have coastlines, their biggest tourism assets are expansive areas of open countryside ranging from Derbyshire's Peak District to the forests of Northumberland.

    "The wild card among our winners might seem to be Essex with its reputation for white stilettos and clubbing, but it's actually a mainly rural county with almost four thousands of miles of footpaths.

    "In fact, the main attraction of all of our top counties seems to be country walking and more active pursuits such as biking and pony trekking," added Jane.

    IMFS Leisure arranges millions of pounds' worth of loans each year for buyers of holiday caravans and lodges on many of Britain's 3000-plus holiday parks.

    This summer, says Jane, the company's business was almost triple that of last year, enabling it to gain a fuller picture of which counties were climbing fastest up the popularity polls.

    "In our view, the new county challengers are good news for everyone as they are helping to spread tourism spending more evenly across Britain's rural economies," commented Jane.

    "But I don't think there's any danger of deserted beaches or empty tea shops in areas such as Cumbria: the figures show our leading holiday stars are shining as brightly as ever!" she added.

    More information about IMFS Leisure can be found at www.imfsleisure.co.uk
    The 50th Boat and Caravan Show (www.boatandcaravan.co.uk), taking place at the NEC, 22-27 February 2011, has attracted the UK's leading holiday, park home, holiday home and lodge manufacturers. These include Willerby, Wessex, Prestige Park and Leisure Homes, Salop Leisure, Victory Leisure, Normandy, Regal, ABI and Cosalt Custom Leisure.

    Hall 2 of the NEC, already over 90% sold, is dedicated solely to park, holiday home and lodges and will feature the event's biggest ever display with over 40 new 'homes'. Experts will be on hand to offer help and advice on all aspects of park and holiday home living. Additionally, visitors will find the most comprehensive choice of park locations across the UK and Europe ever seen at the show.

    Commenting on their involvement at the Boat and Caravan Show 2011 Silvano Geranio, Managing Director of Prestige Park & Leisure Homes comments: "Next year will be the third year running that we will be exhibiting at the Boat & Caravan Show. The show is extremely important, providing us with greater market visibility and an enormous boost in sales, both at the event and immediately following it."

    Geranio continues: "The timing of the show is especially key, particularly for exhibitors that are launching new products. For the past few years, customers are not parting with their hard-earned money so early, instead they're holding back until the spring. A February show is ideal for our market because it's the time when customers are looking to purchase holiday homes and lodges, just ahead of the parks re-opening for the season."

    "Based in Birmingham, the show is central to the whole country and it succeeds in attracting large numbers, guaranteeing exhibitors a huge target audience", concludes Geranio.

    Phil Holmes, Marketing Manager at Willerby comments: "The Boat & Caravan Show provides us with an exciting opportunity to add further momentum to the successful launch of models for the 2011 season. By showcasing products from across our portfolio including Willerby and BK Bluebird holiday homes as well as products from our lodge division, it enables us to 'connect' with customers and to liaise directly with our target audience.

    "The Show also provides us with an excellent platform to support our distribution network and the wider park community."

    Andy Gibb, Exhibition Director adds: "The support of the leading manufacturers in the sector is a testament to the importance our event plays in the industry calendar and the trust placed in us to deliver thousands of visitors eager to experience outdoor living, many for the first time."

    The Boat & Caravan Show ticket hotline - 0844 581 3000 – is now open or you can visit the website at www.boatandcaravan.co.uk to book tickets online (a £1.50 transaction fee applies to advance ticket bookings).

    Touring and Tenting will have 20 pairs of tickets to win, please check back regularly
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