A brand-new grant scheme, set to assist the recovery of Oxfordshire’s visitor economy, will be highlighted to the county’s business community next week during a special online event, led by OxLEP.
The OxLEP Business-led Visitor Economy Grant Scheme is a part of a wider OxLEP Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme, which is being supported through funding secured by OxLEP via the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund.
The programme aims to back the sector’s ongoing re-emergence from Covid-19 through a variety of positive interventions, with the new grant scheme providing funds to eligible businesses, with grants ranging from £5,000 to £24,999 per business.
As an industry significantly-affected by the pandemic, through the new programme, OxLEP will provide a concerted level of support to the visitor economy, strengthening the sector post-pandemic, as well as maintaining and retaining consumer confidence for the industry.
OxLEP Business will hold an online ‘soft launch’ of the visitor economy grant scheme – bringing it to the awareness of the county’s businesses – next Thursday (14 July) between 9am and 9.45am.
As a sector that generated around £2.5billion each year to the Oxfordshire economy pre-pandemic – around 10 per cent of the county’s overall GVA at that time – the Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme aims to ensure the county can both retain and build its visitor economy market share.
It also aims to help Oxfordshire businesses in the sector remain competitive, embrace innovation and be resilient to issues that may have occurred due to the pandemic and potential strains brought about by Brexit.
The grant scheme will open to eligible businesses across two funding rounds – one in October this year and the second expected in April 2023, should funding still be available.
Further details of the full Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme will be announced by OxLEP shortly.
Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – said: “We are very excited to announce this visitor economy grant scheme which is just one part of the wider Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme.
“The new programme aims to attract visitors to the county, helping to ensure that Oxfordshire maintains our position as one of the most-desirable destinations for local, national and international visitors.
“Having previously secured millions of pounds-worth of investment for visitor economy-related programmes and projects in Oxfordshire, this new scheme reflects our ongoing commitment to the visitor economy in the county.
“In addition – as a key, economic driver for Oxfordshire and for a variety of other related sectors – our support programme for the visitor economy is set to, in-turn, leverage other sectors critical to both our county and the wider UK economy too.
“We would very much encourage businesses operating within the visitor economy and related sectors to find out more about the wider programme and supporting grant scheme.”
Through the Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme, OxLEP – with the support of industry partners, including both Cotswolds Tourism and Experience Oxfordshire destination management organisations (DMOs) – aims to help ‘reattract’ visitors, supporting an increase in footfall and spend, engagement and resilience across key visitor economy destinations and experiences in Oxfordshire.
By supporting this sector and an industry that leveraged around 40,000 jobs prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, the programme also hopes to indirectly help inspire many young people to explore career openings across sectors such as those in; retail, tourism, leisure, arts, culture and heritage.
Away from this new programme, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, OxLEP Business has introduced a number of effective programmes and funds, created to provide much-needed support and financial backing to the Oxfordshire business community. This includes its Business Investment Fund and the Cherwell Business Adaptation Fund, launched earlier this spring.