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Tourism grant program created with ARPA funds

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Delaware’s tourism businesses can apply for grants for marketing efforts, creative solutions and park accessibility. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DTO

WILMINGTON — Governor John Carney has announced that Delaware’s tourism industry will see $7 million in federal grants as the hardest-hit industry still struggles to financially recover.

The funds will be awarded to those in the travel, tourism and outdoor recreation industries, with $1 million set aside for marketing efforts to provide for recovery and resiliency to areas that drive Delaware tourism;$1.5 million for accessible parks throughout the state and WiFi access; and $5.25 million to be divided up to five projects that set a “Commercial Corridor Challenge” to offer creative solutions for the tourism industry thrive and withstand future disasters.

“These funds will provide necessary support to the tourism industry that was hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Carney said in a prepared statement. “Delaware’s $3.5 billion tourism industry employs over 44,000 Delawareans and we need to band together to come up with solutions that help the industry recover and prepare it for future challenges. We’re grateful to our partners in the federal government, Secretary Raimondo and others, who have given us this opportunity.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo  announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) will use $314 of its  $750 million of the American Rescue Plan Act to establish grants for 34 states and Washington D.C. The program included $510 million in state tourism grants and $240 million in competitive tourism grants The goal is to create infrastructure and support the workforce for safe leisure business and international travel. Delaware applied for a grant and received $7 million.

“Rebuilding the travel and tourism industry is a key component of the Biden Administration’s plan to build back better and restore the competitiveness of the United States on the global stage,” Raimondo said in a prepared statement. “The State Tourism grants give states and territories the flexible opportunity to boost their local tourism industry and ensure that jobs are restored and tourists return safely.”

Proposed projects will be ineligible to apply if they are included in any other American Rescue Plan funding request. Construction projects require compliance with NEPA and Davis Bacon as well as local environmental regulations. All projects will require EDA pre-approval. No projects will be considered on a retroactive basis.

Interested tourism entities can visit bids.delaware.gov to review the RFP and apply.  The deadline for proposals is Dec. 3 and and awardees will be notified later that month.

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