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Proposal for Government: Helping the tourism industry recover from COVID-19

Northumberland workshop

On behalf of the tourism industry, VisitBritain/VisitEngland have sent a paper to the Cabinet Office detailing how government can help the tourism industry recover from COVID-19.

The paper is a result of a rapid and extensive consultation conducted across the sector with major industry players who were instrumental in the design of the Tourism Sector Deal, including representatives of Destination Management Organisations (DMOs), businesses, trade bodies and more. VisitBritain/VisitEngland are grateful for the time taken by everyone to share their thoughts and in many cases their own research with the body.

After setting out the impact so far and our current economic modelling on the likely impact of continued lockdown or social distancing, this paper proposes actions and recommendations for government across four workstreams:


1. Timelines

Understanding the lead-in times needed for businesses to get up and running, helping to accurately phase the lockdown withdrawal.

On timelines, the industry needs:

A standards-led approach which allows businesses and destinations to assess their ability to reopen under clear criteria.

Clear guidance to consumers about what it is safe to do and when – and reassurance that travel is socially responsible and encouraged

As much notice as possible of the reopening date so that businesses can prepare.

Recognition that domestic will be much faster to recover than international or business travel, with longer term financial support needed for the industry.


2. People

Considering what policies need to be in place to best protect jobs, retain skills, and keep our colleagues and customers safe, as restrictions are lifted.

To help staff back to work and keep them and visitors safe, the industry needs:

Extension of the furlough scheme in recognition that many sites will not be able to operate economically under continued social distancing, the seasonal nature of tourism and its dependence on customer demand.

Development and recognition of a ‘stay safe’ charter mark.

Access to apprenticeship levy money to fund retraining in social distancing measures such as hygiene and adapted operating requirements.

Clear guidance on how best to protect staff and customers through adaptations to sites and use of PPE.

Consideration of the other parts of the economy needed for people to return to work, such as public transport and schools.


3. Regulation

Establish what pressures can be lifted to aid the recovery of businesses, and adapt to new ways of working and travelling.

To make doing business easier in the recovery, industry needs:

A rent holiday for the tenants and landlords of restaurants and other premises.

Relaxation of planning restrictions that limit the opening season for some businesses, or limit where food and drink can be served/consumed.

Amendents to the Package Travel Regulation so that a ‘package’ must include transport to incentivise domestic trips.

Recognition that now is not the time to impose additional burdens or tax obligations on the visitor economy.

Consideration of an additional bank holiday, or moving the later May bank holiday to October half term to stimulate demand when it is possible to travel.

International work by government to try and build global consensus on how international businesses need to operate.


4. Long term future

Using the Sector Deal outcomes to prepare the sector for a new era of travel and to support in the levelling up of communities across the UK - through data sharing, product development, and reducing the outbound deficit.

To secure the long term health of the visitor economy, industry needs:

Acceleration and expansion of the ‘tourism zones’ proposed in the Sector Deal to support tourism’s contribution to the recovery, as part of the government’s ongoing ambition to ‘level up’ poorer parts of the country.

Seed funding of the Tourism Data Hub to build information that will support the recovery, especially for SMEs.

To use the crisis as an opportunity to drive innovation and improve productivity and boost the UK’s profile as a destination.

Encouragement for travellers to holiday at home with a major marketing campaign focused on domestic travel.

International visitor visas to be extended automatically to make it easier for them to take visits postponed due to the pandemic.

To use the reset in consumer behaviour forced by lockdown to consider wider questions like sustainability and longer term consumer behaviour.


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