VisitEngland CEO James Berresford (pictured) has welcomed the government announcement that regional airports can now bid for up to £56m funding for new routes over the next three years.
“This is great news for English regions and a great opportunity for our regional airports to change the way people visit this country, while dramatically improving utilisation levels,” Berresford said.
Berresford claimed the national tourism board had a proven track record of working with Destination Management Organisations and regional airports, including Bristol and Newquay, to drive up passenger traffic through marketing campaigns that promote new and existing routes.
The Regional Air Connectivity Fund was first launched in June 2013 and is open to airports with fewer than five million passengers per year. The fund has already been partly distributed to support strategic routes to London from Newquay and Dundee, but is now being extended to bids for more routes. Over £17m is being made available to bids in 2015/16.
Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill said: “Smaller airports are vital to local economies and ensuring they thrive is a key part of our long term economic plan. I want to encourage the industry to apply to expand their routes, to generate UK growth and jobs, as well as boosting our trade links with countries all over the world.”
Berresford added: “Our efforts rebalance English tourism so that regions have a better chance of growing their local economies, jobs and inward investment through tourism. The government’s new funding announcement provides a fantastic opportunity to expand this successful work with our regional partners and drive more visitors directly to the regions.”
The initial bid application stage will run for five weeks, closing on 25 February, with ministers announcing a shortlist in March. A list of successful bidders is likely then to be published in June.
VisitEngland’s Tourism Business Monitor survey has revealed a strong set of results for the tourism industry during the Christmas trading period. The survey recorded an upturn in short trips taken over the festive period compared to last year.
Half of all accommodation providers in England and 62 per cent of attractions received more visitors this Christmas than in 2013. VisitEngland’s survey also shows that nearly nine out of ten accommodation providers (88 percent) and 93 per cent of attractions were satisfied with their business performance throughout Christmas and the New Year.
The survey also found more businesses expressing confidence about the period leading up to Easter than at the same time last year.
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