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Businesses provide feedback on e-learning project

According to a survey of participants, a three year e-learning project has helped improve management skills, e-business capabilities and profitability at more than 430 tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses across South East England.

The Welcome E-Learning project, delivered by Tourism South East, included on-site assessment and 'diagnostic' sessions with individual businesses, online training schemes, workshops and blended learning programmes.

The project was co-financed by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and the European Social Fund (ESF).

Evaluation and feedback on the project included a survey of participating businesses. 95% of those responding to the survey reported improvements in their overall management and entrepreneurial skills and 56% have already reported increased profitability as a direct result of the programme.

Welcome E-Learning, which ran from January 2004 to March 2007, was particularly targeted at small (SME) or micro-businesses (often owner-managers) in the tourism sector. It formed part of the region-wide strategy of improving management skills and enabling these businesses to harness the internet, e-marketing and new technology effectively to benefit their bottom line.

Barbara Smith, head of learning and skills strategy and development at SEEDA, said: "Welcome E-Learning was successful in directly tackling key needs in the tourism sector including raising management skills levels, providing better access to training, upskilling and retaining staff and helping hundreds of micro businesses to start to benefit from the opportunities offered by new technologies to attract customers and cut costs."

Tourism South East managing director Robert Collier said: "Small businesses are at the heart of the region's visitor economy and we are committed to giving them the tools to improve quality, deliver customer service excellence and enjoy business success. This initiative is a great example of a joined-up approach to meeting real business needs."

438 businesses took part in Welcome E-Learning - 74% more than the project's initial target - including bed and breakfast (B&Bs), guesthouses, small hotels, restaurants and pubs, visitor attractions and other tourism companies. More than 850 individuals participated.

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