Aerial view of Bethany Beach, Delaware

(The Center Square) – Delaware is making an investment in tourism to help the industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. John Carney said in a news release he and the Division of Small Businesses will invest $7 million to help with the recovery effort in travel, tourism and outdoor recreation. The money comes from the Economic Development Administration’s pool of $750 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding.

“These funds will provide necessary support to the tourism industry that was hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Carney said. “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, (U.S. Department of Commerce) Secretary (Gia) Raimondo and others, who have given us this opportunity.”

The funding is part of ARPA’s Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation Program, which has provided $510 million in state tourism grants and an additional $240 million in competitive grants that will be issued to areas hardest hit by the pandemic.

The state, according to the release, is accepting bids on various programs within all aspects of the tourism industry.

Of those grant funds available, $1 million is devoted to marketing efforts, and an additional $1.5 million is devoted to Parks & Recreational to increase accessibility and WiFi. The funding will be divided equally between the state’s three counties.

The Commercial Corridor Challenge will provide $5.26 million for three to five projects that offer solutions to help the tourism industry thrive and help to deter future disasters.

“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. “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.”

Bids can be viewed at bids.delaware.gov. Deadline to apply is Dec. 3. Awards will be announced in late December.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.