The North York Moors Tourism Network has been set up to help tourism, creative, retail and, food and drink businesses capitalise on their location in and around the national park and the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Catriona McLees, the national park authority's head of promotion and tourism, said: “This is a terrific result. In less than six weeks 205 businesses have already signed up.
"Businesses have told us that they want more networking opportunities, that they want to collaborate and find ways to use this beautiful location as a unique selling point. The network will help them do this – and it’s all completely free.”
Members will have access to workshops, marketing master classes and virtual events, regular project updates and links to other sources of information and support and a promotional toolkit.
The network has been made possible after a by a £36,000 European Union Leader rural development grant was secured. The national park authority is matching the funding with £24,000 of cash and in-kind support
It is being developed by the authority with Susan Briggs, director of The Tourism Network.
Raising the profile of the North York Moors and promoting its local distinctiveness is one of the priorities mapped out in the national park authority's new management and business plans.
The grant will help tourism businesses persuade visitors to stay longer and spend more money. It will also raise the profile of the North York Moors, Howardian Hills, and parts of Ryedale and Redcar & Cleveland.
The main focus of the project is on product development, and, bringing businesses together to create new and exciting ways to enjoy the North York Moors.
One new development to come out of a Tourism Network workshop is a collaboration between businesses – The Spa Hotel in Saltburn is going to help promote foreshore tours with Real Staithes – the special family-run business run by former fisherman Sean Hutchinson, his wife, Tricia, and their sons Luke and Thomas.
The hotel is also working with Valley Adventures to put on extra outdoor activities and is developing special new facilities at the hotel for surfers.
And the North York Moors Tourism Network will also be helping The Spa find local artists to exhibit their work in the hotel.
Any tourism, hospitality, creative and retail business which wishes to benefit from increased visitor spending and is based in or near the North York Moors National Park and Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can sign up.
Catriona added: “We'll also be developing collaborative marketing activities and other free/low cost resources. We're careful not to duplicate activities of other organisations but to add value where we can.”