Tourism chief says £10m 'not enough'

The government has pledged £10m to support tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but a leading Lancashire figure says more needs to be done to support one of the largest contributor's to the county's economy.

Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, says that out of a national funding pot, the county could receive as little as £200,000, and will be restricted to handing out grants of between £1,000 and £3,000 to individual businesses - possibly £5,000 in exceptional circumstances.

However, tourism is one of the county's largest industries. From the internationally-acclaimed Blackpool illuminations through to award-winning pubs and restaurants, the sector has been hit hard by the lockdown.

Rachel said: "We very much welcome the news of sector specific grant support for tourism businesses in England, it is exactly the type of initiative that we have been calling for. We are confident that the support delivery structures we have in Lancashire will help our tourism businesses to access whatever funds are available.

"However, my concern is that this does not go far enough. We may only be able to support a hundred or so businesses. We have many more businesses in much greater need than that.

Lancashire attracts 68.74 million visitors who support 61,000 jobs

"Lancashire alone attracts 68.74 million visitors annually, who contribute £4.41bn to the local economy and help support almost 61,000 jobs. We look forward to future announcements about a more comprehensive support package for the sector that will help to see them through the winter."

Sarah Sikorski, owner of Lavender Hotels which is to begin reopening hotels in the county, said: "To say it’s been a rough three months would be an understatement!

"The hospitality industry above all other has been the worst hit, we were one of the first to close and will be one of the last allowed to resume operations. Although we have had some assistance from the government and even with low daily operational running costs while closed, the overheads of running a hotel are immense.

"It’s our belief that with everything that’s gone on and although people will be desperate to get away, they will only feel comfortable under certain conditions. We are extremely lucky that our hotels are located in the countryside with an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy whole still being able to observe social distancing."

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