The money will help launch a co-ordinated drive to promote the county as a fantastic, safe destination for day trips and also staycations if the lockdown restrictions ease sufficiently.
It is part of a £1.6million package of funding agreed by the Marches LEP across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin to support businesses hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis and earlier flooding.
Herefordshire Business Board and Herefordshire Council are behind the plan to promote the county’s huge range of tourism attractions, retail and leisure opportunities to both local and national markets.
Their plan includes developing a new destination website supported by a smartphone app and local and national marketing and PR campaigns to attract day trippers and families and couples seeking staycations as soon as it is safe to do so.
Mandy Thorn MBE DL, chair of the Marches LEP, said the partnership was delighted to support the initiative.
“The tourism and visitor economy has been particularly hard hit by the double impact of the lockdown and floods and large numbers of businesses have suffered as a result through no fault of their own. This sector is so important to Herefordshire and it is vital we get it back on its feet as quickly as possible.”
Frank Myers MBE, chair of Herefordshire Business Board, said the plan would help support the tourism, hospitality, leisure and cultural economy as well as parts of the local retail and manufacturing sectors.
“We have examined the detailed evidence of how the county has been affected by both these events and believe this sector urgently requires action to support its soonest-possible recovery.
“This campaign will allow the county to safely encourage day visits and take advantage of the anticipated peak in the staycation domestic visitor market in the summer and autumn as and when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
“This support will also have a significant impact on all related supply chain businesses such as food and drink producers, wider retail, hotels and visitor attraction suppliers.
“The key challenge will be to deliver this initiative with urgency in order to rescue as much of the 2020 season as we can.”
Councillor Ellie Chowns, cabinet member for environment, economy and skills, said:
“Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our local economy, as it has throughout the nation, and in Herefordshire this has compounded the damage inflicted by the flooding events earlier this year. It is vital that we all do everything in our power to support the recovery of our visitor economy as soon as possible, so it is fantastic news that the Local Enterprise Partnership are providing this funding. The boost will be particularly welcome for the tourism, hospitality, leisure and culture sectors, as well as elements of the retail sector. These seasonal businesses are currently losing trade as we enter their peak season.
“Herefordshire is a perfect destination for anybody looking for an outstanding natural environment and wildlife, beautiful open spaces, and wide ranging outdoor activities. Hereford and our market towns are also ideal for those in search of vibrant rural centres of culture, with opportunities ranging from the majesty of Hereford Cathedral, home of the world famous Mappa Mundi, and boutique shopping experiences, to the incredible variety of high quality, locally sourced food and drink that is available across the county. With excellent transport links, Herefordshire is perfect for day-trippers from outside and within the county.
“We are delighted that this funding boost will provide support during such a difficult time, and encourage everybody to find out more about what makes Herefordshire a world class visitor destination by heading to the visitherefordshire.co.uk website.”
The majority of the LEP funding has come from loan repayments from previous job-creating investment projects the partnership has supported.