A WALKING and cycling business run from the back bedroom of a County Durham house is helping to bring foreign tourists to Britain.

Philip Scriver was 52 when the travel company he worked for folded.

His former employers had rejected his suggestions to exploit the power of the Internet to drum up business and so he decided to take on the challenge himself.

Working from his home in Ferryhill, Mr Scriver designs outdoor holiday packages for visitors to the area.

He used his extensive knowledge of walking both in Britain and in the US to cater for differing trekking tastes.

His company, Explore Britain, is solely website based and can be found at www.xplorebritain.com.

Using the Internet reduces overheads such as production costs for glossy brochures.

Despite the the foot-and-mouth crisis and the September 11 attacks in the US, Mr Scriver continued to diversify and grow his business to the extent that he is considering employing a third person.

Business Link County Durham has supported him throughout the setting up, running and expansion of his company.

A one-day-a-week business training course, lasting eight weeks, also enabled him to learn about all the facets of running a business. The University of Teesside lent the skills of an IT student to help create the website.

The support service encouraged him to look to alternative ideas while the countryside was out-of-bounds to ramblers during the virus outbreak, leading to the establishment of a second website - www.explorebritain.co.uk - catering specifically for horse riding holidays.

Mr Scriver said: "We currently do about 150 to 200 holidays a year. Without the advice of Business Link I would probably have tried to struggle on doing what I was doing."