The British tourist industry is likely to lose billions because of the coronavirus pandemic, sector leaders have said as they spoke of a lack of confidence among people even when it comes to travel within the UK. Losses are being felt from the sharp decline in visitors in international and domestic markets and there is a worry that more businesses will go to the wall in autumn, a parliamentary committee heard.
Patricia Yates, acting chief executive at Visit Britain, said 2020 has to be the “year of domestic tourism” but there will be a serious challenge in convincing people it is safe to travel.
Meanwhile The government is considering giving the UK an extra bank holiday in October to help cut the £37bn loss suffered the tourism industry as a result of the coronavirus.The idea has been put forward by VisitBritain after the infection outbreak forced hospitality businesses to close and lose out on capitalising on two bank holidays in May.
Giving estimates of how much was likely to be lost, Yates told the committee: “Every time we do the modelling the figures get worse. So for inbound, I mean we were looking at the beginning of this year at about £26.6 billion coming from inbound tourism – we reckon a £15 billion drop on that.
“And for domestic, an industry that’s normally worth about £80 billion, a £22 billion drop on that.”
She went on to say in order for business owners to make the most of the summer trading, ‘you’re going to need that domestic audience’ and highlighted the ‘lack of confidence’ the British public has around travelling.
Samantha Richardson, director at the National Coastal Tourism Academy, said 7% of businesses in coastal communities have closed permanently and that estimates suggest as much as 25% of accommodation will be lost along the coast as a direct result of the pandemic.