Cumbria Tourism has been given the go-ahead to offer 480 hours of free 1-2-1 business support to help businesses grow and innovate, thanks to the Cumbria Growth Catalyst programme.
An initial phase of funding earlier this year has already seen specialist Cumbria Tourism staff provide an array of personalised business support sessions across the county, from St Bees and Carlisle to Windermere, Walney Island and Penrith. This has included advice on business development, marketing, PR, accommodation quality and digital/website reviews.
Cumbria Growth Catalyst is delivered through Cumbria Business Growth Hub™ on behalf of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Now, Cumbria Tourism has been given the green light to deliver an additional 160 three-hour ‘diagnostic’ sessions with tourism businesses between now and March 2020.
The aim is to help Cumbria’s small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to strengthen their business. To be eligible, they must have been trading for more than three years and their primary focus must be working directly with consumers.
Cumbria Growth Catalyst is also enabling Cumbria Tourism to provide a series of ‘scale ups’ over the next nine months, giving 16 eligible tourism businesses up to 12 hours of additional intensive support sessions. To qualify, businesses that meet the standard criteria must also have at least 5 employees, an annual turnover of £250,000 and the aspiration to grow their turnover by 50% in the next 3 years.
Finally, the programme means that Cumbria Tourism can offer FREE places for eligible businesses on nine workshops, with subjects spanning everything from social media and award-writing to customer service training and attracting international visitors. Most of the workshops will be facilitated by the organisation’s in-house experts.
Cumbria Tourism’s Business Development Manager, Sarah Davies, says, “Cumbria Growth Catalyst programme is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to tap into the expertise of our advisors completely free of charge. Every personalised advice session will result in a follow-up report and practical suggestions to help them develop them business, so it is a really worthwhile exercise and gives them invaluable access to help develop constructive leads, knowledge and ideas for the future.”
Storrs Hall in Bowness is one of the businesses to benefit from the first phase of the programme. Marketing Manager, Amanda Shaw, comments, “Through the Cumbria Growth Catalyst scheme we worked with Cumbria Tourism to identify new and expanding markets. As a result of that research we are already seeing new bookings from India. Working with the team, we identified opportunities to enhance our online presence, which we are sure will help increase direct bookings. Getting an independent perspective on our business from qualified advisors has been very useful and has definitely highlighted opportunities for growth.”