Visit County Durham is shining a light on the region’s business support for local communities during the pandemic as part of its support for English Tourism Week.

The county’s destination management organisation is backing this week’s English Tourism Week, which runs until Sunday, and highlighting the importance of tourism to their communities which has been demonstrated more than ever in recent weeks.

Despite being closed to customers, Visit County Durham have unearthed a number of tourism businesses who have supported communities throughout the crisis.

The support has included the provision of food and supplies to residents, NHS and keyworkers, learning resources for children being home-schooled, or online entertainment to lift people’s moods.

Visit County Durham have highlighted initiatives such as the Auckland Project’s ‘Closed Doors Open Hearts’ whose catering staff have produced thousands of meals for people unable to access food due to financial challenges, health problems, or self-isolation.

The Project’s Parks and Gardens team are also growing produce to be used as ingredients for the meals. (Auckland Castle pictured above).

Businesses including Seaham Hall, Rockliffe Hall and Raby Estates have been providing meals or donating essentials to NHS workers.

Bishop Auckland Food Festival and Seaham Food Festival, organised by Durham County Council, have moved the festivals online to ensure local producers continue to be supported.

And Durham Gin, a distillery which would have been trading at the events, has been using waste product from its current Langley Moor base to produce vital supplies of hand sanitiser for health trusts, care homes and charities.

Ivor Stolliday, chair of Visit County Durham, said: “Visit England’s English Tourism Week initiative is an opportunity to shine a light on the importance, diversity, value and vast contribution the sector makes to the UK economy.”

“Not only is tourism in County Durham a major contributor to prosperity, supporting 11,998 jobs and generating £914m, visitor economy businesses across the county have demonstrated even further in recent weeks how integral they are to their local communities,”

With many parents currently home-schooling businesses are also showing support by releasing a range of learning resources, including Locomotion, with the learning hub set up by the Science Museum Group attracting a 400 per cent increase in views since lockdown.

Councillor Joy Allen, cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, at Durham County Council, said: “Now more than ever it is essential that we protect tourism’s future, a sector which is vital to the county.

“Not just in respect of its economic value in terms of jobs and visitor spend, but also because of how tourism businesses are so intrinsically linked to, and invested in, the communities in which they are located.

“English Tourism Week gives us the opportunity to highlight some of the incredible deeds being done by businesses including attractions and hotels, who, despite being closed to visitors during the pandemic, have been supporting their local community.”



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