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Delaware Tourism Office launches incubator, workshops

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The Delaware Tourism Office has launched a new incubator and workshop program to support state tourism-based businesses. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DTO

DOVER – With the state’s tourism industry still stung by restrictions connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delaware Tourism Office is launching a new incubator and workshop program to help ensure businesses are prepared for when recovery comes back full force.

The Destination Development Program contains two parts: an incubator that will help one business in each county grow and a free workshop program offered for up to five professionals in each county.

Delaware Tourism Office Director Liz Keller said that the idea for the multi-faceted program was actually hatched before the pandemic, but the crisis only emphasized the need for aid.

“The one thing we heard over and over again was, ‘I’m a one-person team doing everything. How can I get help?’” she explained. “We’ve held workshops and webinars before, but when you get back to the office, you’re still the one person.”

Each part of the Destination Development Program has paid consultants’ who will help participants do the work, so business owners don’t have to feel like they’re alone, Keller said. In the incubator program, the state office is working with Miles Partnership, a nationwide tourism marketing agency based in Florida, while the Wilmington marketing firm Aloysius Butler & Clark (AB&C) will lead the workshops, Keller said.

While the incubator will provide hands-on business development resources by national experts, the workshops will cover a variety of topics from marketing to public relations to analytics over the course of six months. Participants will also get one-on-one sessions with AB&C experts on each of the monthly topics.

Keller said that her office isn’t looking for participants from a particular industry subsector, noting that tourism includes small businesses and nonprofits like art galleries, museums, breweries, sports venues, and more.

“What we’re really looking for are applicants who are ready to take it to the next step,” she said. “We want this to be a transformative experience for them, to have the investment and the expertise to grow leaps and bounds.”

The urgency to get this training and aid out to state businesses has only been heightened by COVID, Keller added.

“We need to raise the awareness of Delaware, the fact that we are a safe destination and how to explore the state safely more than ever before,” she said. “If everyone has the expertise to do that, then the rising tide floats all boats.”

Applications for the program will be accepted until March 15. For more information on the program and how to apply, go to VisitDelaware.com/DDP.

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