UK travel trade association UKinbound, which represents over 400 tourism and hospitality businesses, has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for aggressive and urgent Government intervention to protect the industry from the devastating effects of COVID-19.
The inbound tourism industry contributed nearly £23 billion to the UK economy in 2018, making it the UK’s 5th biggest export earner and the third largest employer.
Urgent measures needed include:
- Guidance on how businesses can apply for Business Interruption Loans as soon as possible;
- Extend rate relief to medium and large businesses, not just to SMEs;
- Corporation tax, VAT, PAYE and other tax payments should be deferred for a minimum of 12 months;
- Employees in tourism and hospitality who have been temporarily laid off, forced to take unpaid leave or put on reduced salaries should be compensated (as other European countries such as Germany, France and Denmark are doing);
- Suspend the requirement for tour operators to refund customers who cannot travel and instead issue credit notes valid for 12 months – cancellations affect the entire supply chain and other European countries are about to enforce this measure
Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound said: “These are desperate and unprecedented times and the only way of ensuring the survival of our vital industry, that employs one in 12 people across all parts of the UK, now is with Government support. The UK’s tourism and hospitality industry simply has no revenue stream or working capital with which to sustain itself, and so we hope that the chancellor’s announcement today about further financial support for the economy will include our sector. Additionally, any support packages must be rolled out and available immediately with absolutely clear guidance; tourism businesses have days, not weeks, in which to survive.”