Funding opportunities for the tourism sector in the Marches

Businesses and organisations have until the end of this year to apply for grants of up to £170,000 for new initiatives that will boost visitor numbers to Shropshire.

A total of £3.5 million is on offer in the region for eligible rural businesses through DEFRA’s latest round of funding in its Growth Programme.

The grants are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which is part of the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF).

People have until January 2018 to register an expression of interest for a grant that will develop visitor attractions and access infrastructure, tourism information and recreational projects in rural areas.

This could include new quality holiday accommodation; schemes that will extend the tourism season between October and March; create new festivals and events, improve visitor information; develop tourism infrastructure, including trails and bridleways and local tourism sectors such as food and drink and rural crafts; or develop sustainable tourism activities.

Grant funding could help pay for constructing or improving buildings or buying new equipment and machinery.

Grants start at a minimum grant of £35,000 and up to a maximum grant of £170,000. For projects that will create new quality visitor accommodation, a minimum grant of £75,000 applies.

Commercial projects that will make a profit can apply for up to 40 per cent of eligible costs. For projects which will be non-profit making, higher levels of support may be available.

Roger Phillips, Chairman of the Marches ESIF committee said: “Tourism is important to the local economy in the Marches and growth in this sector will help us build a sustainable economy.

“The region currently has a diverse offer to visitors and the new funding will enable us to develop an improved year round offer as well as enhance the range and quality of rural tourism products.

“We would encourage businesses with projects that will encourage more tourists to come, to stay longer and to spend more to make applications before the deadline.”

Expressions of Interest for funding bids must be submitted by January 2018. For more information and advice on how to apply, contact the Marches Growth Hub on 0345 6000 727 or email [email protected].