Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure

£10 million pot will be vital for Gloucestershire’s tourism sector

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 12 August 2020 8:55

£10 million pot will be vital for Gloucestershire’s tourism sector

Work is ongoing to open access to a £10 million pot of money said to be vital for many in Gloucestershire tourism industry. 

With lockdown putting their businesses on ice for a key trading period, news of the Government’s Kick-starting Tourism Package was the equivalent of pennies from heaven for many in the sector.  

The only snag being that no date was set for when that money would become available, although The Growth Hub, the Gloucestershire network of business support centres, began gathering names of wannabe beneficiaries straight away in anticipation.

And in its bid to highlight the need to support the sector, GFirst LEP began its 'Planning a Staycation, Think Gloucestershire' campign.

Hari Fell, who runs the acclaimed 20 bedroomed boutique Tudor Farmhouse Hotel and 2AA-star restaurant in the Forest of Dean said business was currently good, but the impact had been enormous. 

“We were not eligible for any of the Government help, apart from the job retention scheme – which was really welcome. 

“The concern is not just what damage lockdown has done to the finances of some businesses – which usually use that money to survive through winter – but what will happen is there is a second wave,” said Mrs Fell, who runs the business at Clearwell, near Coleford, with her husband, Colin.

“We were fully booked for April, May and June, then had to close. We are doing well now, but finding people are making very last-minute decision on whether to come or not.” 

There is still availability, she said, and urged anyone to call to check dates.

In its article about the Tudor Farmhouse Conde Nast Traveller said: “England couldn’t have a better example of a village hotel, punching above its weight than this.”

As for the grants, they would be very welcome, said Mrs Fell. The Tudor Farm House is open all year round, and just as a restaurant, making it better placed than some businesses, but no one has been immune to the impact of the virus.  

“I think the funding will be up to £5,000 and will be for professional advice to helping improve technology. We will be applying for it,” she said.  

Steve Gardner-Collins, who leads The visitgloucestershire Partnership, the newly-formed umbrella body forged to champion the visitor economy and tourism business.  

He called the forthcoming support from Government “very welcome and much needed for many of our tourism businesses in the county”.   

“Visit Gloucestershire is proactively working with The Growth Hubs to prepare the application process for this scheme,” said Gardner-Collins.  

“Many Partners will be able to take advantage of grants to help with training needs, human resources support and investment in digital upgrades.  

“It is vital the sector prepares early for the Autumn and Winter months, any training and digital enhancements will enable Gloucestershire to be bookable and encourage visitors to once again take a staycation.”  

The aim of the £10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package is to give small businesses in tourist destinations grants to help them adapt their businesses following the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses can use the funding to pay for specialist professional advice such as human resources, legal or financial expertise, to adopt new technology and online systems or to purchase new equipment. One hundred per cent of the money will come from government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.  

The Kick-starting Tourism Package within Gloucestershire will be administered through the Growth Hub, which is also working closely with GFirst LEP to deliver the scheme.  

“We are in the process of gathering the required evidence and process documentation that we will need to administer the grants in line with government policy and also clarifying the criteria against which grant decisions can be made.”  

Administration is expected to be announced this month. To be notified of when applications open, you can click here to leave your contact details on an online form at The Growth Hub.