European funding signals bright future for the tourism and hospitality industry

Following an announcement that the tourism industry in the Peak District and Derbyshire is set for a significant funding boost, Brendan Moffett, Director of the University of Derby’s Centre for Contemporary Hospitality and Tourism, discusses how the money will help the sector continue to grow: 

After the recent positive news about the Tourism Sector Deal, it is welcoming to hear that the tourism industry in the Peak District and Derbyshire is to be awarded another significant boost.

This comes in the form of a further £1.2 million in funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which has been allocated to support the tourism sector.

The visitor economy in the D2N2 region is now worth over £3bn annually, having grown by 27% between 2012-2017. The region, which boasts world-class attractions including the Peak District and significant new projects such as the Buxton Crescent Hotel and Spa, attracts more than 70 million visits each year and supports over 60,000 jobs.

Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire, of which I am pleased to be the Board Representative from the University of Derby, has obtained an extension of ERDF funding.

The initial phase of the ‘Growing and Developing the Visitor Economy within Derbyshire’ ran from 2016 to 2019 and delivered £1.3 million of business support to more than 700 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the area.

An additional 200 visitor economy businesses are expected to benefit from this second phase of the project, which will be launched in the coming months and will run until March 2022.

Called ‘Delivering a World Class Visitor Economy Within Derbyshire’, the project aims to improve the quality and increase the profitability of visitor economy businesses in the area through a programme of business support workshops, networking opportunities and a series of small grants ranging from £1,000 to £10,000.

The University of Derby is an official partner in this programme, providing match funding alongside Derbyshire County Council, the Peak District National Park Authority, Derbyshire Dales District Council and High Peak Borough Council.

The University of Derby, through the Centre of Contemporary Hospitality and Tourism, will be supporting the key themes of the project, which include workforce development, extending the tourist season, international tourism, accessible tourism and green tourism.

The overall aim of the project is to increase the productivity of businesses in the visitor economy and helping Derbyshire to grow in regional, national and international markets.

Tourism is an essential part of the local economy and this valuable ERDF funding will ensure that tourism businesses in the Peak District and Derbyshire can continue to grow and thrive.

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Workforce development

Currently, the sector is facing serious challenges with recruitment and retention, and there is much partnership work needed by government and industry in order to boost

It is, therefore, vital that more in-work training and development, through initiatives such as degree apprenticeships, are offered and promoted.

In response, the University of Derby is working with industry leaders to play a key role in workforce development. We are launching a BA (Hons) Hospitality Management and Leadership (Apprenticeship) programme, which will engage with the main disciplines of management and leadership but rooted in the context of the hospitality sector.

This pathway offers a cost-effective way to train, develop and upskill a workforce, a way to motivate staff and improve job satisfaction, and a way to improve staff retention rates. If the tourism sector, particularly in Derbyshire, is serious about growing and tapping into international markets, then addressing the way in which the workforce operates, and advances is a key priority.

Understanding market needs

A key focus of the government’s Tourism Sector Deal is on supporting place-based solutions and boosting productivity across the UK. In line with the key pillars of the government’s Industrial Strategy, the Deal references piloting five new Tourism Action Zones, in a bid to drive visitor numbers across the country, extend the tourism season into shoulder periods such as conferencing and events, and tackle local barriers to tourism growth.

The University is working closely with colleagues on the Visit Peak District Board and national partners at Visit Britain to influence and support new methods of data collection and analysis.

The University is also committed to working with local communities and pledged to develop a Civic University, a document that will be co-created with local partners, and will reaffirm the University’s ongoing commitment to playing its part in the city and county’s prosperity and wellbeing.

Together with the announcement of the Tourism Sector Deal in June, which identified tourism as a leading industry for the government’s future economic planning, this additional funding signals a bright future ahead or the tourism industry, and the University is well positioned to support this growth in the D2N2 region.

Brendan Moffett, Director of the University of Derby’s Centre for Contemporary Hospitality and Tourism

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