June 25, 2020 @ 14:44 by Richard Dawson
A £1 million package of support is being made available for hospitality and tourism businesses across the Tees Valley, including a fund to help them reopen in time for summer.
The scheme is being launched to support the many pubs, restaurants, museums, venues and hotels that have been seriously impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with most business either unable to open or working under severe restrictions in recent months.
The hospitality and tourism sector is worth around £1 billion to the Teesside economy, however, 98 per cent of businesses have said they will require funding to survive.
The £250,000 Welcome Back Fund, launched by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, is the first phase of a year-long programme to help independent small and medium-sized visitor-facing businesses to reopen, with grants of up to £1500.
The grants will help businesses become ‘COVID-secure’, introducing new safety measures such as screens and adding floor markings and sanitisation points at their premises.
The fund will also help businesses promote they are reopening and help them meet the “We’re Good To Go” national tourism industry standards unveiled by Visit Britain.
Mayor Houchen said: “In less than two weeks our pubs, restaurants, venues and hotels will be open again and, unless we all get behind them, workers and businesses face an uncertain future.
“That’s why I’ve made them a priority in my plan for the economic recovery of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, and backed them with the Welcome Back Fund.
“Many of the small independent businesses that bring so much joy to local people and bring in tourists have been able to take advantage of Government support to see them through the last few months, however this alone won’t help them to grow and create jobs in the face of so many new challenges.
“Over the past couple of years, we’ve made great strides in attracting big-ticket events to our region and that is something to be hugely proud of.
“Of course, events like the postponed Killers and Tom Jones gigs are still going ahead next year, along with Rugby League World Cup 2021 so we have a lot to look forward to, and to offer local people, day visitors and tourists.”