Travel trade association UKinbound has written to the Chancellor ahead of the Budget on 3 March and the Prime Minister’s statement expected on 22 February, with four key asks that would address the crippling effects of Covid-19 on the inbound tourism industry in the short-term.
In its letter the association expressed deep concern about the Government’s current rhetoric regarding international travel to the UK and its branding of holidays as ‘illegal’. The fact that policy measures that directly impact inbound tourism have not been combined with tailored support that would counteract these issues, was also raised.
In its letter UKinbound asked for –
- Pathway out of Restrictions statement on 22 February- to restore confidence and allow businesses to effectively plan, the Prime Minister needs to address the re-opening of boarders and how this will happen
- Retain Furlough – as long as there are significant restrictions in place, such as social distancing and travel restrictions, businesses need help retaining their staff
- Tourism Resilience Fund – allocate targeted support in the form of grants to inbound tourism businesses that have had virtually no business since March 2020*
- Extend Business Rate Relief – a key cost for tourism businesses, extending the 100% Business Rates Relief scheme for 2021/22 would help the industry recover and rebuild. This relief, along with Covid-19 busines support grants, also need to be made available to all sectors including tour and coach operators, language schools and event organisers and suppliers
Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound said “Since the removal of travel corridors and the introduction of quarantine hotels, our members have received hundreds of cancellations for Spring 2021, with people moving their trips to later in 2021 and into 2022. As long as quarantine is in place cancellations will continue, and people will be put off booking a trip to the UK this year. Many inbound tourism businesses have taken out loans, but they are beginning to run out of cash reserves and have no idea when they’ll be able to start welcoming back international visitors again.
“This is why we need the Prime Minister to publish a roadmap to reopening the tourism sector on the 22 February. When people can travel again we expect strong demand, but our industry can’t open back up overnight. The Chancellor needs to recognise that we have a long road to recovery and that tourism businesses need support today to ensure they’re able to survive long enough to support the UK’s economic recovery. We’re also urgently asking for furlough to be retained as long as restrictions are in place, sector specific grants and the extension of Business Rate Relief.”
UKinbound members, of which there are over 300, were also encouraged to write to their MPs asking them to support the industry and lobby the Chancellor on these asks.