UKHospitality has urged the Government to extended and expand the VAT cut for hospitality businesses in order to stimulate demand and help support the tourism and hospitality sectors.

This follows publication of statistics today which outline the impact of COVID19 on the UK’s travel and tourism industry.

According to figures published today by the Office for National Statistics in the second quarter of 2020 overseas residents made 96% fewer visits and spent 97% less than in Quarter 2 2019

Domestic and international air passenger traffic fell to less than 2% of its February 2020 levels in April 2020

Accommodation and travel agency businesses saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first national lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020

In the three months to June 2020, employment in accommodation for visitors fell by 21.5% compared with the same three months of 2019

In travel and tourism industries overall, the number of people aged 16 to 24 years saw the largest fall in employment of any age group between Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019 and Quarter 3 2020.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The sudden and colossal drop-off in the number of inbound tourists recorded last year makes for shocking reading for the hospitality sector. As the figures show, 2020 saw a key economic sector take a huge financial hit and the result was job losses, particularly for younger workers.

“People’s reticence to travel last year was understandable, but the figures still make for frightening reading. Hospitality relies in large part on inbound tourism, and a healthy travel and tourism sector is going to be key for the survival of our sector in the months and years ahead. For hotels, leisure parks and visitor attractions it will be particularly critical.

“We appreciate that these figures are not going to return to pre-pandemic levels overnight, but we hope that everything will be done to encourage tourism in the UK, first domestically and then internationally, as soon as it is safe to do so. Key to this will be an extension of the VAT cut for hospitality businesses. If this is maintained and expanded to the wider hospitality sector, it can play a key role in stimulating demand and getting these numbers back up to where we need them to be. If this accompanied by an extension of the business rates holiday, then all the better for businesses’ chances.

“A healthy tourism sector means that we can play a bigger role in the economic recovery of the country and we can begin to refill these vacancies. As the worldwide vaccine rollout continues apace, we need to send the message that we are open for business.”


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