WITH tourism in Wirral booming, businesses are being invited to access the benefits of joining the area’s visitor economy network. And this year, members will be able to apply for a share of an annual events fund, set up to support tourism events including festivals and tours. Network members can apply for up to £1,000 in funding support for events to attract new visitors to Wirral. Events already awarded grant funding include the Port Sunlight River Park Birthday event on 14th August, the Wirral Arts Festival from 1st – 15th October, and the Wirral Wader Festival on 1st and 2nd October. Lorna Tyson MBE, Chair of the WVEN and proprietor of Mere Brook House, 2016 winner of the Wirral & LCR tourism awards for accommodation said: “Events are an essential part of any tourism strategy and this new events grant is a great addition to the portfolio of benefits to becoming a WVEN member. This grant will support both new and existing events and the organisers will work with our members in order to attract even more day and short break visitors. It will also help them to grow and become self-sustaining in the future.” Cllr Phil Davies, Leader of Wirral Council and Liverpool City Region (LCR) portfolio holder for Economic Regeneration and Energy said: “We are committed to increasing the value of Wirral’s tourism visitor economy to £450 million by 2020. As well as major, international events like the proposed visit of the Giants in 2018, and building world-renowned venues like the international golf resort, this means working with small and medium-sized businesses to ensure we have a coherent, ambitious tourism strategy that secures benefits for them. “We want Wirral to be the destination of choice not just for businesses, but for holiday-makers as well. We already get 7.5 million visitors every year, all spending money in the borough and making a valuable contribution to our economy. The network helps our businesses to grab a bigger slice of that investment. “We already support large scale events like the Three Queens but local groups and communities can now benefit from these awards too.” The Wirral Visitor Economy Network (WVEN) has over 100 businesses already signed up, including attractions, restaurants, hotels, golf clubs, bars & cafes as well as heritage and environmental groups. Wirral’s tourism visitor economy is worth more than £385.5m, employs over 5,000 people and attracts 8.2 million day and short break visitors every year. Benefits to joining the network include advice and support from professional visitor economy experts, a bespoke webpage on www.visitwirral.com, entry into a range of tourism literature and invitations to regular networking meetings including the Wirral Tourism Awards. Membership of the WVEN costs £275 plus VAT, however a first year introductory rate has also been introduced of just £175 plus VAT for the first year for new members. To find out more about becoming a WVEN member visit www.visitwirral.com/information/wirral-visitor-economy-network or call Amanda Williams on 0151-691-8091.