UKinbound, a tourism trade association, has released its latest business barometer results which show that inbound tourism businesses could be saved from collapse if the government provided targeted support.
When the Chancellor announced details of the new Job Support Scheme (JSS) on 24 September, three in four inbound tourism businesses were planning to start making redundancies. This figure dropped to under 50% when the more targeted JSS closed option, for businesses required to shut due to local lockdowns, was announced on 9 October.
However, 72% of tour operators and destination management companies (DMCs) say they will still need to make redundancies.
40% of respondents stated that their business will “manage” through the crisis, with this increasing to 62% following the 9 October announcement. Likewise, 37% of tour operators and DMCs stated they would be “operational” when business returns.
Confidence levels continue to be low, with 17% of respondents saying they are “confident” about business in the next 12 months, however this is a rise on the 11% recorded in April. Reasons given for this low confidence including “lack of clear policy from the government on travel corridors” and “no decisive move to testing pre-arrival rather than quarantine”.
UKinbound has said it will continue to lobby the government with the following asks: creation of a ‘Tourism Resilience’ Fund to help businesses wholly reliant on international visitors to survive until the return of the market in Spring 2021; call on the Minister of Housing, Communities & Local Government guidance on rate relief and grants should be amended to include tour operators and DMCs; testing on arrival/ regional corridors to restore consumer confidence in travelling to the UK; and extension of the enhanced JSS for lockdown areas to tour operators and DMCs who have been prohibited from trading because of HMG impediments.
Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound, said: “Our research clearly shows that targeted government support does work, but the tourism industry is a diverse range of inter-related businesses that depend on each other for survival, and currently the UK’s 200 plus inbound tour operators and DMCs continue to be left out in the cold, struggling to survive.
“Inbound is the UK’s third largest service export earner, with 40 million international visitors visited the UK in 2019, contributing £24bn to the UK economy. Over half of these visits were facilitated by tour operators and DMC. These businesses also deliver international tourists to locations across the UK, where they spend valuable money in regional city and rural economies.”
“We urgently need government, specifically Treasury and the Minister of Housing, Communities & Local Government, to engage with the sector and provide clear targeted support for these businesses. There is a pent-up demand to visit Britain; these businesses must be helped to survive so that they can help play a key role in the UK’s economic recovery. We will be delivering a proposal for targeted support to Treasury soon.”