Guarded welcome in Lancashire for £10m fund to aid tourism

The Government’s announcement of its £10m Kick-starting Tourism Package, has been welcomed, but with reservations by Lancashire tourism groups.

By Tim Gavell
Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 7:00 am

The funding, from the European Regional Development Fund, is designed help small businesses in tourist destinations get hold of support of up to £5,000.

On top of that, the Government said it will also accelerate delivery of over £50m for shovel-ready infrastructure projects in coming months to boost tourism.

But many tourism businesses feel that the £10m figure might not of itself be able to save them following the coronavirus lockdown and restrictions posed by social distancing to save lives that hit their income.

Tourism businesses could benefit from a new Government fund offerin aid of up to 5,000

Responding to the announcement about the £10m package, Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, said: “We very much welcome the news of sector specific grant support for tourism businesses in England, it is exactly the type of initiative that we have been calling for.

“We are awaiting further detail and are confident that the support delivery structures we have in Lancashire will help our tourism businesses to access whatever funds are available.

“However, my concern is that this does not go far enough.

“We may end up with just £200,000 for Lancashire, and with grants likely to be between £1,000 and £3,ooo, up to £5,000 in exceptional circumstances, we may only be able to support a hundred or so businesses.

Rachel McQueen of Marketing Lancashire welcomes the fund but said more was needed

have many more businesses in much greater need than that. Lancashire alone attracts 68.74 million visitors annually, who contribute £4.41bn to the local economy and help support almost 61 thousand jobs.

"We look forward to future announcements about a more comprehensive support package for the sector that will help to see them through the winter.”

A Blackpool Council spokesperson said: “We welcome any form of Government support for our hard-pressed tourism industry and look forward to receiving more details as to how this can help our local businesses.

“Our initial understanding is that this package of funding will be administered by the Lancashire Business Hub known as Boost Lancashire and that there will be a clear set of eligibility criteria that will determine how and to whom the money is allocated. As and when we receive further details we will post them on our council website.”

Beacon Fell and other areas popular with visitors may benefit

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government Simon Clarke said: “Kick-starting domestic tourism will be key to our economic recovery and that is why I am delighted to announce £10m in new funding for small businesses in tourist destinations, bringing jobs, investment, and financial support to the communities who need it the most.”

He added many areas had experienced a significant fall in tourist and visitor numbers in recent months and the initiative will help ensure tourist hot-spots were open for business this summer.

Marketing Lancashire is part of a national group of destination management organisations calling on the government to maintain financial support for tourism businesses throughout the coming winter.

A petition has been put together, led by Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron to appeal for extra cash, given that the current season has been curtailed by coronavirus.