Business West's hot air balloon, co-owned with UWE Bristol and Destination Bristol, took off at 6.10am on 7th April 2017 as part of a world record attempt involving 82 balloons, pilots from 10 different countries, and one luxury hamper full of South West made food and drink goodies.
Taking off from Dover to cross the 26 miles of English channel to France, as part of that adventure, balloon pilot Derek Maltby and a team on board, aimed to deliver in person the basketful of products made in the South West to a French farmer across the channel - conveying the message that the region is very much open for business and exports with Europe.
The world record breaking attempt across the channel was timely and links well with the good news for the South West in HMRC’s latest stats which shows that the export of goods from the South West to the EU increased by 7.7% between 2015 and 2016, from £8.3 billion to £8.9 billion.
But, there are easier ways to export than a hot air balloon...!
International sales have provided significant growth for thousands of UK businesses, with this set to increase as demand for quality British-made products and services rises across the globe.
The South West of England is a region renowned globally for its quality food and drink produce, and chocolate, cider, cheese, tea, fudge and a range of ales were just a few of the products that were taken to France. Fittingly HMRC’s stats for March 2017 show that exports to the South West’s third largest export market, France, increased by 24.5% from £1.6 billion in 2015 to £2.0 billion in 2016.
And, it's not just food and drinks that we can look to export over the channel.
Keith Hicks, spokesperson for UWE Bristol said “In addition to exports, higher education continues to be attractive to our European neighbours with the number of EU students applying to UWE Bristol currently up 6% against a national UK decline of - 7%. This region has benefitted from the university’s strong connections with Europe and we are keen to maintain these."
John Hirst, Chief Executive of Destination Bristol agrees, stating: “This will help us to further promote Bristol on the international stage and encourage even more people to visit - especially bearing in mind our great ballooning reputation.”
So, a big congratulations to Derek Maltby and his team, as well as the other 82 balloons that took flight - breaking a new world record and helping to promote the South West as a region ripe for export.
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