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Free specialist support helping tourism businesses to expand will soon be available across the city and county

Free specialist support helping tourism businesses to expand will soon be available across the city and county. Astronaut

Small and medium sized attractions and accommodation and hospitality firms can take advantage of the advice, designed to help them harness growth in the sector.

The project launches next month and aims to support 130 businesses across Leicester and Leicestershire. It offers one-to-one support as well as workshops focusing on topics including making the most of social media and consumer review websites.

Delivered by Winning Moves, in partnership with Leicester Shire Promotions Ltd, it’s funded by Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

County council leader Nick Rushton said: “Tourism is a hugely important sector in terms of attracting visitors, businesses and providing a great place to live. This project will provide valuable support to the many small and medium sized enterprises that make up this growing sector.”

Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The original award of £3.1million for the Collaborate Project was fantastic news, in terms of helping the city’s Economic Action Plan, which in turn will boost the city’s economy and benefit the whole of Leicester.

“This latest contract to help and support the tourism and hospitality sectors will help us to build on the recent momentum which has helped make Leicester such a visitor destination.

“I hope this work gives a real helping hand to small and medium businesses across the city and county.”

Dr Sharon Redrobe, Chief Executive at Twycross Zoo, said: “As Chair of the Tourism Advisory Board, and board member of the LLEP, I am more than aware of the importance of this sector to the local economy.

“Tourism is a major employer in Leicester and Leicestershire providing over 17,000 full time equivalent jobs, with a further 4,749 supported by indirect tourism revenue. I am absolutely delighted to see this investment in supporting our sector. In the last six years, the value of the sector has grown by 33 per cent to £1.762 billion and with support from LLEP, City and County I’m sure we will see that successful growth continue.”

Businesses can find out how to apply here: www.llepbizgateway.co.uk/collaborate

The project is part of a wider business support programme called ‘Collaborate for Business Growth’ led by Leicester City Council in partnership with Leicestershire County Council, East Midlands Food and Drink Forum and East Midlands Chamber of Commerce.

The programme provides a range of sector support, grants for small and medium sized businesses and inward investment.

Collaborate has been awarded £3.1 million through the ERDF.