Coronavirus: Over £22bn set to be wiped from UK domestic tourism industry due to pandemic

‘Every time we do the modelling the figures get worse,’ says chief executive officer of VisitBritain

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 19 May 2020 11:33 BST
Beachgoers enjoy the sun at Durdle Door in Dorset
Beachgoers enjoy the sun at Durdle Door in Dorset

Over £22bn is set to be wiped from the UK’s domestic tourism industry due to the coronavirus pandemic and stringent restrictions on public life, according to the acting chief executive officer of VisitBritain.

Speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Patricia Yates also said conversations were ongoing about an additional bank holiday in October to extend the holiday season and aid the struggling tourism industry.

Highlighting the severe blow to the sector from Covid-19 and a nationwide lockdown enforced since March, she told MPs: “Every time we do the modelling the figures get worse.”

Ms Yates added: “So for inbound, I mean we were looking at the beginning of this year at about £26.6bn coming from inbound tourism, we reckon a £15bn drop on that.

“And for domestic, an industry that’s normally worth about £80bn – a £22bn drop on that. And that’s actually before we’ve factored in the quarantine because we don’t clearly quite know what the measures are going to look like.”

Ms Yates, the acting chief of VisitBritain, a public body funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the industry had lost the benefit of the two bank holidays in May, and that an additional bank holiday in October around the half-term break, was an “idea being considered”.

“What we need to do is not just generate people in July and August, but really extend the season this year for the domestic marker,” she said.

She said while it would be the hope that domestic tourism this summer could pick up the slack and help alleviate some of the losses from the international sector, a “lack of confidence” among people around travelling is a concern.

She said: “You’ve got a collapse of the supply industry as well as collapse of demand and really to get British tourism up and running this summer, and the summer is hugely important, you’re going to need that domestic audience. I think the worrying thing we see is the lack of confidence in the British public about travelling.

“So there’s a real job to be done there, given that it has to be the year of domestic tourism, there’s a real job to be done there in convincing people that it’s socially responsible to travel and enjoy a holiday. And that it’s safe to do so.”

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