Published: Thursday, 30th July 2020
In a major investment to support one of Norfolk’s key industries, council and business leaders have agreed to fund a £2.225m tourism sector support package from the Norfolk Strategic Fund.
The project, led by Norfolk County Council in partnership with all seven district councils and Visit East of England, is being put in place to help the tourism sector to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
The project aims to make Norfolk as safe as possible for both visitors to the county and local residents. Funding will be allocated to each District Council and to Visit East of England and will be used to help create a quality visitor experience whilst maintaining key Public Health messages to ensure we continue to keep COVID-19 figures as low as possible.
Cllr Graham Plant, Deputy Leader of Norfolk County Council said: “The visitor economy in Norfolk is worth £3.25bn a year and provides nearly 70,000 jobs in the county. With businesses forced to stop trading just before Easter – the start to the season - it has been amongst the hardest hit industries in Norfolk. This package of funding will provide vitally-needed support to those businesses that COVID-19 may have had a devastating impact on. I hope this will help to restart the industry safely and our businesses will experience a safe and successful summer.”
The package will support the ongoing work being undertaken at a regional and national level with VisitBritain and VisitEngland in seeking to become a Tourism Zone and to develop a sustainable, year-round visitor offer. Immediate activity will include improving the presentation, cleanliness and hygiene of key locations and communication with visitors in advance and, for example through marshalling. A small grants programme is being developed for businesses to support the costs of adapting to the ‘new normal’ and to make the changes needed to extend the season.
Intelligence from the sector reveals the deep impact of lockdown, with high levels of redundancies and business failure projected. This high impact fund is designed to support the Norfolk Recovery Plan and complement the Visitor Economy Recovery Plan developed by Visit East of England, local authorities and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership which was launched last week.
Pete Waters of Visit East of England said: “This initiative is exactly what the industry needs as it seeks to get back on its feet. It is hugely important as businesses reopen that visitors and residents feel safe and are reassured. A second spike and lockdown would end Norfolk tourism in 2020 and exacerbate what is already a precarious position.”
Chris Starkie and Doug Field from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership said: “This financial package for the hugely-important tourism sector in Norfolk is very welcome and complements the Tourism Recovery Plan which was developed with Visit East of England and all local authorities and published this week.”
VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said: “It is great to see this collaboration across the industry to developing a recovery plan for tourism, working together locally and nationally will ensure success and get tourism in the east of England on the road to recovery.”
Cllr Margaret Dewsbury of Norfolk County Council said: “Working with Visit East of England, Visit Norfolk, local authorities and New Anglia LEP, and ensuring we follow Government guidelines and VisitBritain messaging, this demonstrates the level of joined-up thinking we are applying to helping tourism recover post-pandemic. The level of engagement and collaboration has never been greater, and we hope to see that continue in the future.”
About the fund
The Norfolk Strategic Fund is a £6.75m fund to provide funding for Norfolk local authority/NALEP led projects aimed at supporting the County to recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic through specific targeted projects or by bringing forward the delivery of key infrastructure. The £2.225m Tourism Sector Support Package is the first project to be approved from the Fund and is a project led by Norfolk County Council on behalf of the partners in the New Anglia Visitor Economy Group: Norfolk County Council, Breckland Council, Broadland Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, North Norfolk District Council, Norwich City Council, South Norfolk Council, Visit East of England and New Anglia LEP.
Tourism Zones are part of the Government’s sector deal for tourism, set out in the Industrial Strategy. Tourism Zones will bring businesses and local organisations together to establish a coordinated strategy for growth in their local visitor economy and to increase off-season visits. For more details, visit www.visitbritain.org/tourism-sector-deal.