You shouldn’t let that happen. Here are a few reasons why!
It is estimated that tourism contributes around £130 billion to the UK’s economy, employs in the region of 3.2 million people and generates £39 billion in tax revenue for the UK government. Indeed, tourism has been the heart of the UK’s economy for generations, providing much-needed employment and investment opportunities across the UK. However, since March, international travel has slowed down to a trickle due to the absence of lots of flights and various strict quarantine rules. As a result, many businesses that rely on demand from tourism have had to make significant choices given that they only have so much cash reserves.
Karl Chessell, Business Unit Director, Retail and Food at CGA, says: “The last four months have been the most difficult period of trading that most of us in the industry have ever seen. CGA’s data shows how the pandemic caused a sudden and dramatic downturn in sales and had a seismic effect on consumer behaviour, and the big question now is how quickly the market can recover.”
“There are clearly many tough challenges ahead, but with the backing of consumers and the right support from the government, businesses cannot just survive the pandemic but thrive in the happier times that lie ahead.”
One potential opportunity that businesses can take advantage of is the emergence of a new trend where there is an increase in the demand for local tourism. With Hotel chains given the all-clear to reopen on July 4th, many have experienced a surge in bookings for local travellers as they wait for global tourism to open.
Local tourists are gaining more confidence in going out and spending as the government has recently published guidance on how they’re allowing UK tourism and visitor attractions to reopen to the public to boost the economy and local businesses across the country. The advice includes guidelines for hotels and accommodation providers – such as campsites, caravan parks and short term lets – as well as indoor and outdoor visitor attractions and conference and events centres. A new industry standard has also been introduced by VisitEngland for hotels, accommodation providers and visitor attractions to reassure the public that businesses are adhering to government guidance. This has acted as a marker to visitors that a venue is practising social distancing, maintaining cleaning routines and has undertaken a thorough risk assessment to protect customers when on site.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said “Britain needs a break, and from July 4th people can now take a well-deserved staycation. We’ll need the public to keep safe on holiday by following the advice we’re providing, but there is no doubt this is the news many have been waiting for. I am looking forward to a British holiday myself.”
“Our guidance will help the tourism businesses reopen safely, reassure locals and allow businesses to welcome guests back with confidence.”
Additionally, in a bid to boost local businesses that depend on tourism, the government has funded £10 million as part of their Kick-starting Tourism Package. Speaking at the Local Government Association’s annual conference, the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government Simon Clarke MP had announced that the new funding will be distributed to communities recognising that the tourism sector is hugely important in supporting local businesses, creating jobs and driving local economies in villages, towns and cities across the country. Small businesses in tourist destinations will receive grants of up to £5,000 to help them adapt their businesses to the coronavirus pandemic by helping to pay for specialist professional advice such as human resources, legal or financial expertise, to adopt new technology and online systems or to purchase new equipment.
This initiative will, in turn, support the £50 million government funding for councils to support their local high streets back in May 2020, which allowed investment in a range of practical safety measures including new signs, street markings and temporary barriers which helped businesses begin trading safely, not only in high streets and town and city centres but also in other public spaces like beachfronts and promenades. Councils were also able to use the money to develop local marketing campaigns to explain the changes to the public and reassure them that their high streets and other commercial areas are safe.
While some cities may see tourism return rapidly, for example, cities like Blackpool home to one of Britain’s most famous seaside resorts are generally much more dependent on domestic tourism. In comparison to cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham or Glasgow are much more reliant on overseas tourism may experience a more gradual increase in consumption. Although, provided that people’s behaviours follow a national lifting of restrictions and with all the funding support and guidelines the government have put in place, as mentioned above, this growth will surely accelerate as time goes by. So, it’s imperative for local businesses that rely on tourism to stay firmly open for business and meet the eventual surge in demand as we progress within this path to recovery.