Bidding open for VisitEngland's £40m tourism fund
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VisitEngland is inviting bids for a share of £40m (US$57.7m, €50.6m) fund aimed at driving tourism growth across the country.

The Discover England Fund, a staged three-year fund announced by the government in last year’s spending review, has been set up to build ‘world-class’ tourism products and experiences that cater to the needs of international visitors to boost inbound spend across England, while also benefitting the domestic tourism market.

VisitEngland is calling for projects worth as much as £250,000 (US$360,000, €316,000) in the first year, with submissions accepted until 31 March 2017.

“Tourism is a major job creator and latest figures show that visitors are coming here in record-breaking numbers. However it is also a fiercely competitive global industry,” said VisitEngland chief executive Sally Balcombe.

“To fight for our market share and stay competitive in this fast-moving, fast-growing industry we need to be able to offer world-class tourism products to the right customers at the right time. By converting aspiration to visit into bookings we can drive more visitors across England, ultimately spreading the economic benefits of tourism across all our regions.”

The fund will address some of the challenges facing English tourism, according to Balcombe, who added that how tourists choose and book their holidays is changing. The VisitEngland and VisitBritain chief added that visitors from traditional tourism markets are demanding new experiences and places to explore, with some of the strongest growth coming from markets that do not know much about England.

“While London continues to have global appeal, with more than half of international visitor spend in London, there are a wealth of attractions for visitors to enjoy beyond the capital,” she said.

“Our transport connections don’t always make this exploration easy, and customers now expect to book online, use distributors and comparison websites, and see availability at short notice, so we need to be tech and digitally savvy as an industry to keep ahead.”

According to recent government statistics, tourism is worth around £106bn (US$152.8bn, €134.1bn) annually for the English economy, also supporting more than two million jobs. Latest figures show that domestic overnight trips taken in England grew by 11 per cent in 2015. England has also seen record tourism spend in the past year from domestic and international visitors.

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VisitEngland is inviting bids for a share of a £40m (US$57.7m, €50.6m) fund aimed at driving tourism growth across the country.
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