FACT-FINDING delegations have forged strong links with a North Herefordshire farm in pursuit of rural tourism both here in the UK and further afield in the Land of the Rising Sun.

For the past 18 years, farmer’s wife Juliet Williams has developed a rapport with travel and tourism experts in Japan, while earning accolades and a solid reputation for her farmhouse B&B business.

The tireless mother and grandmother has just returned from her latest mission to Japan where she has toured the countryside offering help and advice to individual set-ups and taken part in meetings and symposiums with tourism bosses.

For two decades the 60-year-old has run her B&B at 200-acre Lowe Farm near Pembridge where she lives with her husband, Clive.

Since a Japanese professor and his two academic companions arrived on a mission to learn more about ‘green tourism’, Juliet has kept in close contact, and a steady stream of Japanese students and visitors have discovered the attractions of the Lowe Farm. They can even expect to be greeted with such words as ‘Konnichiwa’ – ‘hello’ – over the breakfast table.

Juliet’s breakfasts, comfy beds and winning smile have put the B&B firmly on the map. At home she has won a plethora of awards including the coveted Rose Award for outstanding customer care, and in Japan she has won hearts to the north and south of the country as well as in Tokyo.

Some guests have returned again and again since Juliet first put out her vacancy sign. But it was in 1999 when she welcomed Japanese professor Shinji Aoki. “He found Herefordshire, and he found me!” With two other professors, he was researching green tourism, and Juliet’s knowledge and enthusiasm persuaded him to return with a minibus full of factfinding Japanese visitors.

Juliet has just returned from her latest high-powered visit, taking the bullet train to her various destinations, attending symposiums and speaking to individual B&B providers. Spreading the word about the way Farm Stay UK holidays and short breaks work here has been part of Juliet’s mission. She has been explaining the importance of marketing, databases and recognising weaknesses.

“This can be having en suite showers, even the kind of coat-hangers provided,” she said. Itemising bills for guests was also important. “Costs can go up so you have to itemise room prices, charges for dinner and drinks, otherwise you are causing harm to your own area economy.” Her review of these points has been passed to a Japanese government officer. “He’ll now go round teaching these points,” she said.

“It is an amazing link,” she notes. Shortly after her return, Farm Stay CEO Stephen Harris will be attending a symposium in Japan, and Juliet herself has been asked to return next year.

Back at home, a Japanese delegation will be paying a visit next summer undertaking a two day tour with Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire’s boss Heidi Chamberlain-Jones. Eating, seeing local attractions and walking will be top of the agenda.

Juliet clearly still sticks to her grandmother’s sound advice: “If you’re going to do something, then make sure you do it well!”