Leading tourism bodies in the UK have called on the government for urgent action to help the struggling inbound tourism industry.
A letter to the prime minister emphasised the need for measures that enable the safe return of international travellers as soon as possible — particularly to cities.
Signed by Airlines UK, Association of International Retail, Cities Restart, New West End Company, Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance, Road Haulage Association Coaches, Tourism Alliance and UKinbound, the letter outlined that city restaurants, bars, hotels, shops, theatres, visitor attractions, inbound tour operators and intermediaries will struggle to remain viable if foreign visitors do not return this year.
International visitors are the financial lynchpin of the UK tourism industry, spending £696 on average during a trip, compared to just £239 spent by the average domestic traveller.
VisitBritain has forecast that spending on domestic holidays in the UK in 2021 will drop by 33 per cent compared to 2019.
The letter demanded that Boris Johnson take three steps to help get the industry back on its feet: provide fluid, easy access to the UK for inbound visitors from green countries; introduce a cost-effective testing system, including the removal of VAT; and stump up funds for VisitBritain to start international marketing of the UK abroad.
“As we progress from step two to step three in the reopening roadmap it is critical that cities are not left behind as the country moves forward with recovery,” said Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound, adding that “we can’t rely on domestic tourism to make up for the shortfall and spend of international visitors, especially in our cities”.
“As we forge ahead with a new global Britain post-Brexit, the success of cities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be vital.
“We face the prospect of boarded up shops and restaurants, and the vibrant heart and soul of our cities disappearing if international visitors and their vital revenue doesn’t return.”
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