TOURISM businesses in Somerset which have been hit by the floods are to benefit from a £2million support fund, the Government has announced.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said the cash pot would help to pay for experts to visit areas hit by flooding to give advice, hosted by VisitEngland, and support tourism businesses like bed and breakfasts, hotels and local attractions.

Ms Miller said: “We want to help all those tourism businesses that have been affected by the horrendous floods get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

“Experts will be put on the ground to help small businesses with practical advice and communications while a bespoke Easter marketing campaign will bring people back to the areas hit.”

Businesses that rely on tourism in particular have been hit by the perception that all of Somerset has become a modern Atlantis.

Simon Brice is owner of the Apple Tree Hotel in Nether Stowey, deep in the Quantocks and far away from the serious flooding, but even he has seen tourism dry up.

Mr Brice said: “It’s definitely been quieter. People do think the whole of Somerset is under water. They don’t really understand the layout of Somerset.

“Weekend business has been quiet because people have not been coming down. If something is happening in one area, people will stay away from the whole place.”

Bridgwater councillor Leigh Redman said: “It is important for the message to get out that, while we all have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people, Somerset, and in particular Sedgemoor, is still very much open for business.

“The water level is not affecting the hubs in our county. Traders and businesses are still functioning, so please consider Somerset for a place to go whether it is for business or pleasure.”

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