A TOURISM campaign is being set up to help Dales businesses get back on their feet once the coronavirus threat has passed.

This week the government announced measures and guidelines to try and deal with the pandemic.

Some of those guidelines included avoiding social events, pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants.

But businesses, such as bed and breakfast establishments which rely on tourists during the busiest months to see them through the winter, have said they are not getting the advanced bookings as people had already started staying away.

Now an initiative is being launched to help regenerate the area when it is safe to do so.

Susan Briggs, director of The Tourism Network, based in Masham, said: "Tourism businesses in the Yorkshire Dales have already been adversely affected by both the flooding and coronavirus. They are struggling with cancellations and fewer advance bookings. Tourism businesses rely on income generated between now and September to remain in business during the remainder of the year.

"Many use local suppliers and are farm diversification projects that supplement farm income. The negative impact of a tourism downturn on the broader Dales economy will be considerable."

Mrs Briggs is helping up an interactive map which businesses are being offered the chance to join. The symbol on the map will be a rainbow coloured animal based on the All Creatures Great and Small theme. The Dales has been the venue for recent filming for a new series.

The map will show where the businesses are located and the shops and businesses themselves will put a rainbow-coloured animal figure outside to show passers by they are part of the scheme.

"I have written to North Yorkshire County Council, Craven District Council and Richmondshire Council to call for funding for a collaborative tourism campaign to help tourism bounce back.

"Work we do now will have a major impact on the success of the industry later in the season. Businesses are very happy to collaborate on a joint campaign and to make a financial contribution but we really need seed funding to kickstart activity.

"So far I've given my time on a voluntary basis and am spending a third of my working week on voluntary projects to support local tourism businesses and run the Dales Tourism Network. I have spoken to many business owners recently to identify the help they need. I have provided some initial advice which has been well-received. Having worked in tourism marketing for over 30 years I've helped businesses survive many other crisis so have a good idea of what we need to do - we just need some local authority help to do so."

Mrs Briggs said she had spoken to several businesses who were happy to get on board.

One of them is Kilnsey Farm Park owned by Jamie and Amy Roberts.

Mr Roberts said: "All of us in the local tourism sector are having to deal with a huge amount of uncertainty at the moment. Outdoor activities such as hill walking, fishing and cycling are clearly low risk in terms of virus transmission and people have still got to walk their dogs haven’t they?

"It would seem strange if people were kept away from the wide open spaces and healthy fresh air of countryside like the Yorkshire Dales – especially as the current official advice is that getting outside for a walk is going to be important for people’s mental wellbeing, as long as they say two metres apart.

"We’re a resilient lot in the Yorkshire Dales and we’re used to ups and downs, so this new project will give all of us something to rally around and make our tourism offer even stronger for the future.

"The current situation won’t last forever so it’s important that we focus on what we can do to bounce back as soon as things get back to normal. We’re using this time to develop lots of plans including a new outdoors family experience with our alpacas that will raise money for local charity HART Farm.

"As soon as the restrictions lift people are going to be desperate to get back to normal and start holidaying again. I think we will see a huge upsurge in domestic tourism, particularly as no-one knows what state the airlines and international travel industry are going to be in."

Dales Tourism Network is offering free marketing advice for anyone who joins the network, also for free.

"People are naturally scared about what is going to happen and 100s of businesses have already signed up for the free online workshops on offer.

"They are also 100 per cent behind the interactive map knowing there will be something in place to help them once the coronavirus is over," Mrs Briggs added.

Details of how to join the network can be found at: dalestourism.com