As our country begins to unfurl from its tight, protective ball of enforced hibernation; businesses are busy assimilating their new environment, trying to work out how and when to get back up and running and how to compete in this new world.
One of the sectors most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic is the tourism industry. And with rural tourism worth £18.5bn to the UK economy and employing over 600,000 people (source: CLA), it’s essential that a way forward for these businesses is found as soon as possible.
But it’s not just what we think of as traditional tourism businesses that are affected. It goes beyond the hotels, B&Bs, holiday lets and restaurants. It is the wider Visitor Economy that has suffered. A successful Visitor Economy, in places such as Cornwall, creates jobs for local residents and revenues streams for a wide variety of local businesses. So while locals may have enjoyed empty roads and uncrowded beaches during sunny May, a lack of visitors has a far wider impact on our rural economy than at first may appear.
With new guidelines being developed for the varying types of businesses, customer/visitor caps being discussed and new social distancing rules and hygiene standards to be met, the tourism sector is on tenterhooks as to how it will all play out. But undoubtedly, it will all make it harder for businesses to do what they do and make ends meet. Extra compliance will add cost which must either be borne by business owners or the customers.
Clearly a lot is still being worked out by industry associations and central Government, including:
- Opening of SOME tourism businesses from 4th July: According to the Government’s “Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy” published on 26th May, some tourism businesses such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation, public places and leisure facilities may be able to open from 4th July at the earliest.
- Proposed new social distancing mark: Visit Britain has proposed the creation of a common industry standard quality mark to provide reassurance to UK holidaymakers that the nation’s tourism businesses and attractions are safe to visit.
- Creating opening guidelines and protocols for workplaces and public spaces (4.3 Step Three): It will be essential that all tourism businesses meet the social distancing rules and abide by the hygiene guidelines.
- Reports that a new Autumn bank holiday has been suggested: To re-coup lost earnings from the spring bank holidays, Visit Britain have proposed a new, additional Bank holiday in October, around school half-term, which the Government is considering.
- Potential limitations on visitor numbers or customer capacity.
The Visitor Economy is a powerful force behind the financial sustainability of many of the UK’s towns, villages and areas. Local people in those areas will have missed the opportunity for Spring revenue meaning they will want to do all they can to get back to business. We can all play our part in supporting our Visitor Economy through buying local and visiting local attractions (while following social distancing and hygiene rules) as they begin to reopen.
And, if you’re one of those carefully following the discussion regarding overseas holidays, why not consider instead a holiday right here in sunny Blighty and help get our rural Visitor Economies back into gear.
Many of our customers are farmers or landowners who diversified into the Visitor Economy. If it’s something you’re considering, contact us to find out if we can help.
By Veryan Skinner, Head of Brand, Marketing & Communications.
This blog was originally published in our #FOLKUS newsletter. Subscribe to get future issues delivered into your inbox: www.folk2folk.com/folkus