Communities dependent on domestic tourism are set to benefit from a new £10 million government "kick-starting tourism" package to help the sector "recover and renew".
Grants of up to £5,000 will be available to small businesses in tourist destinations to help them adapt as the UK emerges from its coronavirus epidemic.
A further £50 million has been pledged to infrastructure projects over the coming months to help boost tourism, the government has said.
MP Simon Clarke, minister for regional growth and local government, announced the package at the Local Government Association’s annual conference on Friday (3 July), confirming the cash would be distributed to communities immediately "to kick-start tourism in time for the summer" and support the UK’s economic recovery.
Businesses can use their grants to pay for specialist HR, legal or financial advice, adopt new technologies and systems, or to purchase new equipment; 100% of the money will come from government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.
"Kick-starting domestic tourism will be key to our economic recovery, bringing jobs, investment, and financial support to the communities who need it the most," said Clarke.
It comes after domestic tourist and visitor numbers have fallen away significantly owing to the coronavirus crisis and subsequent national lockdown; Clarke said the initiative would "help ensure tourist hotspots are firmly open for business this summer".
Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston added: "Our tourism sector is hugely important, creating jobs, supporting businesses and driving local economies in villages, towns and cities. It is vital we help the sector bounce back and give it the platform to recover when it reopens from tomorrow [4 July]."
The funding has been sourced from the European Regional Development Fund. It will be allocated to local growth hubs across the country, based on each area’s level of employment linked to tourism and hospitality businesses, meaning coastal and rural areas will receive a larger share of the funds.