UKinbound has released its latest Business Barometer results which show that viable, export earning, inbound tourism businesses would be saved from collapse, and highly skilled people could avoid redundancy, if the Government provided targeted support.
When the Chancellor announced details of the new Job Support Scheme (JSS) on 24th 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 9th October.
However, because of the nature of their businesses, 72% of tour operators and destination management companies (DMC), who employ talented people with contracting, language and negotiation skills, will still need to make redundancies.
Tour operators and DMCs have been hardest hit by the Coronavirus pandemic as they are reliant on international visitors for business, can’t pivot to domestic and were excluded from crucial support channels as Government don’t recognise that the operating conditions of these leisure industry businesses differ from those with an obvious shop window.
40% of respondents stated that their business will manage through the crisis, however this jumped to 62% after the 9th October announcement. However, only 37% of tour operators and DMCs stated they would be operational when business returns.
Confidence levels continue to be low, with just 17% of respondents saying they are confident about business in the next 12 months, but this is a rise on the historic low of 11% recorded in April. A range of reasons were given for this low confidence including the lack of clear policy from Government on travel corridors and no decisive move to testing pre-arrival rather than quarantine.
UKinbound will continue to lobby 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
- Extension of the enhanced JSS for lockdown areas to tour operators and DMCs who have been prohibited from trading because of HMG impediments (e.g. lockdowns, quarantine etc).
Joss Croft, CEO, 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 £24 billion 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.”