During the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite a huge array of tourism businesses being closed, they are still demonstrating how vital they are to the county’s economy and local communities.
Tourism has become embedded in communities like never before, with businesses intrinsically linked to, and invested in, the community in which they are located.
We want to shine a light on the incredible deeds being done by tourism businesses including attractions and hotels, which, despite being closed to visitors during the pandemic, have been supporting their local community through the provision of food and supplies to residents, NHS and keyworkers, learning resources for children being home-schooled, or online entertainment to lift people’s moods.
‘Closed Doors Open Hearts’ has seen more than 10,000 frozen meals and 400 fresh hampers distributed to local people unable to access food due to financial challenges, health problems, or self-isolation during the pandemic.
Catering staff have utilised The Auckland Project’s large central kitchen to prepare and freeze thousands of meals, and are also growing produce in part of Auckland Castle’s Walled Garden. The meals are available for collection from community hubs or delivered to local people in need. Partners include Health Express; South Durham Enterprise Agency; Woodhouse Close Food Bank; Shildon Alive; and Trimdon Community Centre.
The campaign is funded and supported by County Durham Community Foundation, local elected members, Area Action Partnerships, public donations, volunteers, and suppliers.
Bishop Auckland and Seaham Food Festivals play an increasingly important part in the tourism economy, with Bishop Auckland attracting a record 29,000 people in April 2019, and thousands more flocking to the inaugural Seaham Food Festival.
The festivals, commissioned by Durham County Council, are key events for local producers so, when they had to be cancelled this year, the focus was shifted to doing as much as possible online.
‘Support Our Traders’ pages were created on the festival’s websites, showcasing a huge range of local produce and products available from the festival traders by click and collect or delivered direct to the customers home.
‘Together Through This Test’ campaign highlights some of the unsung heroes across professional and recreational cricket as well as providing updates on new cricket-led initiatives helping support local communities.
Durham Cricket jointly launched a Mental Health campaign to support the cricket network, with weekly videos of tips from Graeme Fowler on coping during lockdown, and cricket skills challenges to try at home from Durham players and staff.
Key worker and volunteer for the North East Ambulance Service, from Middleton-in-Teesdale Cricket Club, Susan Bainbridge, was nominated by the club to be featured in the #raisethebat campaign, which will see Susan appear on billboards across the country, to highlight the cricket world’s key workers.
The cathedral has ensured visitors and its congregation alike can still engage with the cathedral by providing worship through live streaming on its Facebook page and other resources.
The Canon Pastor of Durham Cathedral and other clergy and cathedral staff are in direct contact with regular worshippers and volunteers offering support in this difficult time.
Although Locomotion’s doors may be closed, the railway museum has ensured visitors can still explore the museum with interactive virtual experiences they can enjoy from home.
Visitors can view the museum’s online collections, explore inside railway vehicles through a series of 360-degree photographs, and access educational activities, including making model trains from the Science Museum Group’s learning hub.
The theatre and university are uniting to produce Onstage: Online-a digital festival to celebrate creativity during the lockdown and showcase the county’s talent to a global audience.
The festival, which takes place from 11 - 14 June, will feature theatre companies and performing arts groups from across the county, with performances live-streamed on the Gala Durham’s YouTube channel.
The Durham Heritage Coast’s boutique hotel - winner of a gold award at the recent North East Tourism Awards, has been supplying hundreds of meals to frontline staff from the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.
Durham Gin, established by Jon Chadwick at Langley Park six years ago, has risen to the coronavirus challenge by using a waste product from its distillery to produce vital supplies of hand sanitiser for health trusts, care homes and charities.
The luxury hotel, at Hurworth-on-Tees, gifted 576 shower gels which normally go in guests’ rooms, to Darlington Memorial Hospital after a message went out asking for products for many patients who don’t have any toiletries, due to the ban on visitors.
When the Stables Café in the grounds of Raby Castle was closed at the beginning of lockdown, the café donated a range of food products to critical care staff working at Darlington Memorial Hospital. The Stables Café has now re-opened for takeaways only.
During the temporary closure of Durham Market Hall, dedicated web pages and social media campaigns were created to support the many traders who have introduced local collection and delivery services.
To support home schooling during the lockdown, historian Alex Iles is offering key stage history workshops, giving a fascinating insight into the region’s heritage.
The luxury holiday cottages may be closed to guests, but they’ve been keeping busy by making NHS bags during lock down.
The individual bags include a special thank you card for our NHS heroes and toiletries which would normally be available for B&B guests.
The Pre-Raphaelite Knights Reinventing the Medieval World exhibition was due to be open until 3 May, however the exhibition was cut short due to the lockdown. The Bowes Museum have ensured that visitors who didn’t make it to see these beautiful paintings in person (or for those who wish to see them again) can experience the exhibition with an online guided tour.
The Victoria Inn, in Witton-le-Wear, is one of The Auckland Project’s community ‘Closed Doors Open Hearts’ partners, distributing meals to vulnerable and self-isolating families in the village. Landlord George Hall, his family, and village volunteers are also delivering basic essentials, including free flour, and serving as a food bank.
Do you know a Tourism Community Champion? We want to hear from you! If you or your business have been supporting residents, keyworkers or other businesses please share your story with us by emailing email@example.com