COASTAL towns and villages are to benefit from £500,000 investment after the Morecambe Bay Partnership was successful in a government bid.
The area will be given £490,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund – a pot of £23.7 million established to help promote economic generation and create jobs within seaside resorts.
It is hoped the money will bring an economic boost to the region, support 260 tourism-related jobs and safeguard thousands more.
Funds will also be used to connect and sign a 200km Bay Cycle Way, deliver events, develop trails and apps to improve information for visitors.
Bid coordinator Susannah Bleakley said: “Our scheme is called 700 Days to transform the Bay – the money is time-limited, we have just two years to deliver.
“Seven Hundred Days will create new opportunities for visitors from near and far to explore and enjoy this fascinating area.
“Focusing on four clusters around the Bay, it aims to develop a distinctive, yet diverse, offer within each cluster, and support the marketing of a more compelling destination. We want to bring more visitors who stay longer, travel sustainably, spend more and repeat their visits.”
The scheme aims to deliver 300 training places, develop three new training courses, support 100 businesses and generate new business opportunities.
Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for economy and highways Coun Tony Markley said: “The visitor economy is one of Cumbria’s key sectors with potential for sustainable growth. We are delighted to see 700 Days go ahead – this imaginative scheme will help open up the Bay area. “This investment will boost trade and benefit the whole Bay area, making it more attractive to live and invest in, as well as visit.”
Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris welcomed the funding.
“The funding will be a huge boost to the area,” he said. “I am supportive of the Morecambe Bay Partnership and all the work Susannah Bleakley is doing. I have been able to see the 700 Days business plan, it is extremely exciting.”
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said economic analysis of the impact of the project showed it would make a massive impact.
He said the project could deliver a three per cent uplift in tourism spend and employment by end of 2016 – an increase in tourism revenue of £15 million, which equated to 268 new jobs around the Bay with a further 8,200 jobs safeguarded.
“This investment comes at a critical time for Bay-wide tourism and should help to revive fortunes and boost trade benefiting the whole area,” said Mr Farron.