With the application window for the second round of OxLEP’s visitor economy grant scheme due to close on 30 August, attention turns back to the significant impacts the first round of funding – announced at the beginning of 2023 – has already had across the county’s tourism-focused business community.
One such beneficiary of the scheme has been Global Dream Travel Ltd, an Abingdon-based tour operator specialising in small group, high-end bespoke experiences with a focus on sustainability and supporting local businesses.
Global Dream Travel focuses much of its efforts on attracting customers from North America visiting the UK and Ireland, mainland Europe, Africa and South America but they also offer a range of tours and products to people all over the world.
Its offer is geared towards seasoned travellers, however they also offer personalised trips and activities that cover all age groups and backgrounds.
So – where did our visitor economy grant come in?
Like many operating within the travel and tourism industry, the company’s biggest challenges had been financial ones as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite good levels of continued bookings through repeat travellers – helping to minimise the impact of Coronavirus – its potential customer base was affected due the lack of worldwide people movement.
Global Dream Travel in fact are a ‘multi-user’ of OxLEP Business’ support. They have accessed a number of one-to-one sessions with specialists covering marketing, accounting and finance as well as growth plans through the now closed eScalate programme.
But it says the biggest support came via the visitor economy grant scheme, which allowed the organisation to sell a large group tour for a major magazine in the United States, due to take place in Oxford next spring – this, in-turn, will help support local businesses in their off-seasons.
This development also gives Global Dream Travel the opportunity to potentially to operate this tour at least once a year.
Backed by OxLEP’s support, the organisation are now pushing ahead with getting more new business through different marketing campaigns.
Global Dream Travel believes this can allow the business to grow organically and sustainably, which will also help it address the next challenge of scaling-up its resources to cope with additional demand.
In addition, the company are also hoping to add a touring vehicle that is either electric or hybrid, which will not only allow Global Dream Travel to operate tours in the UK on a more sustainable level, but also create the opportunity to market its brand more widely across the country.
They are also keen to add to its current staff set-up. A sales representative would ‘be key’ in generating more new activity and filling spaces on pre-set tours for 2024 and beyond.
How can my visitor economy business access similar OxLEP funding?
OxLEP Business reopened its visitor economy grant scheme on 16 August.
Pre-registration will be required for the scheme, which can be completed between 16 and 30 August. Only the first £700,000-worth of applications will initially be invited to apply.
We will continue to accept registrations up until the 30 August, which will be held on a waiting list. However, people with a declared disability that affects the time it will take to complete the registration form will have until 30 August to register.
Grants of between £10,000 and £15,000 are set to be available per successful business during this round of funding.
The grant scheme is part of OxLEP’s £1.64million Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme, funding for which was secured by OxLEP via the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund.
Following the grant scheme’s closure, OxLEP will remain determined to continue to support our visitor economy-focused businesses in Oxfordshire through a range of business support events, webinars, peer network groups and networking opportunities.
You can also complete OxLEP Business’ business support tool in a matter of moments and receive a bespoke support plan, ready for your organisation to action and take you to the next level.