Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has unveiled a new £1m support package for hospitality and tourism businesses following the disruption of COVID-19.
The mayor has outlined a ‘Welcome Back Fund’ worth £250k as the first stage of a year-long programme of support for the region’s SMEs.
Businesses will be eligible for grants of up to £1,500 to help them implement social distancing safety measures such as screens, floor markings and sanitisation points.
The funding will also enable firms to promote their reopening and help to ensure they meet the “We’re Good To Go” national tourism industry standards set out by Visit Britain.
Mayor Houchen commented: “In less than two weeks our pubs, restaurants, venues and hotels will be open again and, unless we all get behind them, workers and businesses face an uncertain future.
“Many of the small independent businesses that bring so much joy to local people and bring in tourists have been able to take advantage of government support to see them through the last few months, however this alone won’t help them to grow and create jobs in the face of so many new challenges.
“That’s why I’ve made them a priority in my plan for the economic recovery of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, and backed them with the Welcome Back Fund.”
Cllr Shane Moore, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council and cabinet member for culture and tourism at Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “Small local businesses are the backbone of our economy in Hartlepool and the wider Tees Valley area.
“The pubs, cafes and restaurants we all love have only got a few days to get ready to welcome back their customers, and to do so safely.
“That’s why I’m backing these measures to help firms in the visitor and creative economies. Jobs are at stake and we’re taking action to protect them.”
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