Businesses that are part of the UK’s ‘visitor economy’ have missed out on more than £3bn this winter, new analysis by Labour reveals, as the amount spent by overseas visitors to the UK has plunged by 80 per cent. Last November and December, visitors spent £4.2bn in the UK.
That means businesses particularly reliant on booming spend from tourists will have seen their income dented above and beyond other businesses in the UK, including 23,500 hotels, B&Bs, camping grounds and hostels; 39,000 pubs and bars; 2,200 zoos, amusement parks and historical sites; 35,500 restaurants; and hundreds of thousands of shops.
Labour has called for more than £2bn returned to the Treasury by supermarkets in unneeded business rates relief to boost support for those businesses that do need it, as well as for those who have fallen through the cracks in Government support.
Businesses are struggling without adequate support from Government, with direct cash grants for closed businesses worth at most half what they were in the first lockdown. Meanwhile the one-off additional restrictions grant payment for local areas is inadequate and fails to take into account the circumstances and severity of restrictions in different places.
Ed Miliband MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary said:
“Businesses across the UK are facing a black hole this winter with billions wiped from their incomes during the crucial Christmas period.
“Those businesses in our visitor economy are facing not only the effects of restrictions here, but the huge loss of spend from tourism to the UK. Our hotels, hospitality and high streets will be especially hard hit.
“Unless Ministers change tack a winter wipe-out of these usually vibrant businesses is a real possibility. They must do the right thing and see them through to the end of this crisis.”
Jo Stevens MP, Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary said: “Visitors normally flock to the UK because of our rich heritage, vibrant restaurant scene and stunning natural attractions.
“This has been a devastating year but it is within the gift of the Government to support our vital tourism sector so that it can be there to welcome back visitors, both from the UK and abroad, when it’s safe to do so.
“Labour has consistently called for sector specific support and reallocating this public money from businesses that have returned it is an obvious solution.”