Business confidence levels are plummeting as the tourist industry heads towards winter, prompting renewed calls for a winter package to support the county’s tourism industry and save jobs.
A survey by the Cumbria Tourist board of 150 tourism-related businesses from across the county found that almost half of respondents don’t feel confident that their business can survive the next six months, and nearly two-thirds don’t feel confident about their longer-term survival.
The survey also found that 10% of tourism businesses are still unable to reopen in a viable way, with average capacity per business is just 75% of what it would normally be and average spend is significantly down.
Staffing capacities are reduced and 43% of businesses are keeping some staff on furlough and 75% of businesses will not be recruiting – up from 50% a month ago while 23% of businesses plan redundancies, with management posts amongst the most common to go.
These results came before the Government’s latest Rule of Six announcement, which it is already impacting on bookings. Now, as we head into autumn and winter, and with the added complexities of evolving government restrictions, it is clear that the industry will continue to be impacted and will need to keep adapting. As a result, the organisation is now teaming up with Mr Tim Farron MP alongside fellow Cumbria MPs and the Lake District Hotel Association (LDHA) – to renew its plea for urgent Government intervention to support jobs, businesses and customers through the challenging winter months.
Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, comments, “As we head into the traditionally quieter autumn and winter months, and with the added uncertainty about the continuing impact of COVID-19, this new research shows precisely why this is such a critical time for our industry. The closures between March and July wiped more than £1.5billion from the county’s economy and saw parts of Cumbria identified as the ‘England’s furlough capital’.
“Although most businesses were able to start reopening and welcome back staycationers from 4 July onwards, the results show there has been no automatic bounce back. Even before last week’s announcement regarding the rule of six and the implications this has for the hospitality sector and its customers, business confidence was plummeting.
“A number of crucial markets remain decimated, including international visitors, group travel, corporate, large parties, events and weddings. We had hoped to see some relaxation of corporate and possibly other restrictions, but this has now been paused. In July, serviced occupancy levels were on average just half of what they should be at one of the busiest times of the year. We need continued Government intervention to support businesses and Cumbria Tourism will continue to make the county’s voice heard at the highest levels as we continue to call for urgent action.”