Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston has announced a £1.3 million emergency fund to support local tourism organisations at severe risk of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the funding would be available to any at-risk destination management organisation which usually receives at least half its income from commercial sources.
Destination management organisations provide guidance to local businesses to promote domestic tourism.
The funding is to cover operating costs and the cost of employees that cannot be furloughed under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme because they provide crucial business support services.
The tourism minister said: “At the moment it is of utmost importance that everyone plays their part and stays at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
“However, we also need to act now to help the tourism sector be as strong as possible when we get through this pandemic. Destination management organisations will play a vital role in this recovery and this fund will support their essential work.”
The DCMS said the funding would help destination management organisations to provide critical business support and start to prepare for recovery at a time when many were facing a cash-flow crisis and loss of commercial income.
Under the scheme, the organisations can receive up to £2,500 a month for two members of non-furloughed staff who provide crucial business support services and up to £5,000 to cover operating costs.
VisitEngland acting chief executive Patricia Yates said: “Tourism has been one of the earliest and hardest hit of all economic sectors and this fund will help to ensure DMOs can continue to provide crucial support and expert guidance to the hundreds of thousands of small-to-medium sized businesses that make up England’s tourism sector.
“Our intention is to get the funds out quickly to DMOs with a light touch application process as we work with them in recovery planning, to ensure that tourism rebounds and once again becomes one of the most successful and vibrant sectors of the economy.”