A new programme of online masterclasses has been launched in the North East to help small businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors to adapt to the impact of Covid lockdowns and other restrictions.

The North of Tyne funded Citylife Business Support service is partnering with Be the Business to deliver a series of online masterclasses aimed at helping North East SMEs adapt their business strategies to the changing tourism and hospitality climate.

Be the Business is a government-backed, business-led, independent charity that aims to help small businesses improve their productivity and performance.

Citylife’s move to offer this new support comes as the sector is hit by a third national lockdown. In October, NewcastleGateshead Initiative forecast that the North East tourism industry could lose as much as £2.8bn in revenues by the end of 2020 and face the loss of over 35,000 jobs.

Ian Thomas, Director of Leisure Tourism and Research at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Last year was tough for tourism and hospitality businesses and this type of support is vital in helping the industry to recover and thrive again. Independent North East businesses are what make the region an exciting and unique place to visit, we need to ensure that they are still operating so that we can begin to rebuild our local economy together.”

The masterclasses will provide business owners with the tools and confidence to use the latest market insights and intelligence to identify their core target audience and reach new customers – big business strategies that can be used as small business tactics.

The sessions, which start on the 26 January with Embedding resilience: market trends and the art of the pivot, will see expert speakers from Be the Business and local business leaders, such as Blueline Taxis, share their own experiences and top tips for business recovery.

Alex Rushton, Tourism & Hospitality Sector Lead at Be the Business, said: “The North East is full of ambitious people and businesses and it’s clear that the next six months will be a crucial time for the region’s businesses. We want to work with local partners such as NGI that are motivated to help rebuild their local economies and help the local business community become more resilient. These masterclasses will give local business owners the practical advice and tools they will need to help them prepare their businesses to face the challenges ahead.”

By the end of last year Citylife delivered 30 online events for SMEs and saw over 600 people access support through the programme. The free online events programme is based on current challenges, resilience and innovation and delivered by business leaders who will share their knowledge and expertise.

For more information on the tourism and hospitality masterclasses and to sign up:

www.bethebusiness.com/masterclass