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The Visitor Economy Grant scheme, which can provide grants from £5,000 to £24,999 per business, is open now, but some businesses aren’t sure if they are eligible. Read on to find out if your business could benefit…

The OxLEP Business-led Visitor Economy Grant Scheme is a key part of the wider OxLEP Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme, funded via the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund.

With grants ranging from £5,000 to £24,999 per business, the scheme is a prime example of how OxLEP is working to provide a concerted level of support to the visitor economy, strengthening the sector post-pandemic, as well as maintaining and growing consumer confidence for the industry. The scheme aims to help businesses to attract more visitors into Oxfordshire, and to attract maximum value from those visitors.

But for many businesses, the phrase ‘visitor economy’ conjures up a series of very specific images around tourism, hospitality and culture – so it’s easy to dismiss your business as ineligible.

The new Visitor Economy Grant Scheme aims to support as many eligible businesses across the sector, from every point along the supply-chain, to those operating at the forefront – or as the ‘face’ of the sector.

Grants are available to Oxfordshire based businesses, with a primary function in one of the following sectors – tourism, culture, arts, heritage, leisure, events, hospitality or independent retail. To be more specific, does your business align with any of the following descriptions?

Tourism

  • Passenger transport – Water and land
  • Hotels, holiday centres and villages, youth hostels and other collective accommodation,
  • Recreational camping grounds
  • Renting of cars and light motor vehicles
  • Renting and leasing of passenger water transport equipment
  • Travel agency and Tour operator activities
  • Activities of tourist guides
  • Visitor attractions

Culture

  • Cultural education
  • Museums activities
  • Operation of historical sites and buildings and similar visitor attractions
  • Botanical and zoological gardens and nature reserves activities

Arts

  • Performing arts and theatres
  • Operation of arts facilities, galleries and studios

Leisure

  • Sports, recreation and well-being activities for visitors
  • Amusement parks and theme parks and activity/ recreation centres

Events

  • Letting and operating of conference and exhibition centres
  • Activities of exhibition and gatherings – fair / festival organisers
  • Activities of conference organisers
  • Wedding venues

Hospitality

  • Distilling, rectifying, and blending of spirits
  • Manufacture of cider, beer, and wine
  • Licensed restaurants, Unlicensed restaurants and cafes
  • Take-away food shops and Mobile food stands
  • Event catering activities
  • Licensed clubs, public houses and bars

Independent Retail

  • Independent retailers based in Oxfordshire tourist destinations

Examples of eligible projects that would be considered for grant funding include: the development and delivery of a new or improved product, service, app, or experience, the digitalisation of a business, or the marketing and promotional activity of a business.

For the full list of eligible projects for consideration and the criteria in order to apply for one of the grants, please read the guidance notes on the Visitor Economy Grants page.

If you find that you are not eligible for funding through the Visitor Economy Grant Scheme, then OxLEP Business has a series of grants available through its other programmes – supporting innovative businesses through the ERDF-funded Innovation Support for Business programme’s ‘Go-Create’ grants and apprentices facing barriers to starting/completing an apprenticeship through the ‘Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Grant Scheme’.

The Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Grant Scheme forms part of OxLEP’s ‘Social Contract’ programme, with funding also secured from the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund.

For more details on what funding your business may be eligible for, businesses can fill out OxLEP Business’ Business Support Tool – which takes just 7 minutes – and from which you will receive a bespoke Business Support Action Plan, detailing the appropriate next steps you may wish to take in your business support journey.

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