Governor John Carney and the Delaware Division of Small Business announced Feb. 10 more than $7.7 million in funding awards to seven organizations as part of the recovery effort for the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries.
The funds are part of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $750 million American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation program, which provided $510 million in State Tourism grants and $240 million in Competitive Tourism grants to be awarded to advance the economic recovery and resiliency of communities where the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries were hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Delaware received over $7 million of those funds and announced a request for proposals (RFPs) in November.
“Delaware’s tourism industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to face challenges as it rebuilds,” said Governor Carney. “The organizations receiving funding today will provide a boost to the industry by maintaining quality jobs and encouraging travelers to visit our state’s many destinations.”
“The $3.2 billion tourism industry in Delaware employs more than 44,000 people and is an important part of our state’s workforce and economy. It is critical that we do everything we can to support the industry,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “The organizations receiving the funds today have found creative solutions to help our state’s tourism industry recover from the pandemic and prepare for future challenges.”
“A robust arts and culture industry is directly linked to Delaware’s tourism industry and to our state’s overall economic recovery from COVID-19,” said Delaware Arts Alliance interim executive director Lorraine Poling. “Our team has created a comprehensive and thoughtful plan to use these funds to engage our communities and assist the tourism industry in rebuilding and remaining sustainable into the future.”
The funding will provide:
- $1 million to the Delaware Arts Alliance to produce an interactive, publicly available map of Delaware’s creative economy; create comprehensive recovery plans for Delaware’s Opportunity Zones; and perform an economic impact study.
- $1.7 million to Delaware State University in collaboration with the University of Delaware to expand current programs, including DSU’s Hospitality & Tourism Management degree, to support the rebuilding of the travel and tourism industry in Delaware. Funds will also be used to create familiarization tours for a targeted audience of national as well as international admission officers and other officials who make recommendations to students and parents regarding colleges or universities in the U.S. Tours will target those students interested in tourism-related industries, including hotel and restaurant management, facilities management, museum studies, and culinary arts.
- $751,262 to the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for a multi-faceted “Welcome All” regional campaign targeting travelers along the eastern corridor from New York to Virginia. The campaign will highlight the many diverse treasures of New Castle County, the City of Wilmington, and the region’s unique neighborhoods.
- $334,999 to Kent County Tourism for a comprehensive advertising and marketing program to increase awareness and promote unique Kent County offerings. Marketing and advertising efforts will also focus on growing the group market, particularly military reunions tied to the AMC museum and Dover Air Force Base. In addition, marketing efforts will also include website upgrades.
- $400,000 to Southern Delaware Tourism for a comprehensive advertising and marketing plan to promote overnight visitation to Sussex County as well as a publicity program to promote Southern Delaware’s Culinary Coast™.
- $300,000 to the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation for a comprehensive marketing campaign to draw even greater tourism activity from out-of-state visitors to Freeman Arts Pavilion in Selbyville. Marketing efforts will include but are not limited to television, radio, social media and billboard and signage enhancements. The project also proposes updating the foundation’s economic impact study, which was last updated in 2018.
- $3.25 million to the Riverfront Development Corporation (RDC) to “Light Up the Riverfront” by painting and installing LED lights along the railroad bridges surrounding the Wilmington Riverfront and installing lighting on trees, bushes and structures along the Riverwalk, with themed displays and projection art throughout the year. The RDC will also use the funds to create a regional marketing plan and visitor incentives for the new light installations utilizing its existing Riverfront Wilmington app.