BUSINESSES, charities, trusts and public bodies operating in the tourism sector in rural areas across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin are being given the opportunity to bid for further funds that will promote the region as a year-round visitor destination.

The funds, which total £150k and come from The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and are managed via the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), follow an earlier round of funding from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), applications for which are due to close at the end of October.

Applications to the latest release of funds are open through to January 8, 2016 and are being sought from organisations that support the aim of developing the region in to a year round destination.

Grants will be awarded in values ranging from £35,500 up to approximately £60,000.

The tourism sector across the Marches generates over £1 billion per year in Gross Value Added (GVA) and employs more than 33,000 people. It has been identified by the Marches LEP in its ESIF (European Structural & Investment Funds) Strategy as a key sector for growth.

Gill Hamer, director of the Marches LEP, said: “The Marches LEP and its key partners are keen to see the significant contribution of the tourism sector to the regional economy continue to grow.

“In order to achieve this, the sector across the whole of the Marches region needs to improve co-ordination and planning between partners and stakeholders and so applications to this fund that can demonstrate a commitment to greater co-operation will be viewed particularly favourably. Ultimately we need to ensure that these funds work towards making the Marches an easy and enjoyable place to visit for all.”

All applicants will need to demonstrate that their proposed project seeking funding has acknowledged the aims and objectives of each existing local tourism plan. Marketing and promotional activities that meet the aims and objectives of these plans will be particularly welcomed.

Further information on the fund can be found by visiting: or by contacting Tim King, Visitor Economy Development Officer, Shropshire Council /