Tourism businesses in Cumbria have come together to call on the government for extra support as the industry heads towards the winter season and businesses remain cautious about trading levels.
More than 150-tourism related businesses took part in Cumbria Tourism’s survey, highlighting that almost half of respondents don’t feel confident that their business can survive the next six months, and nearly two-thirds don’t feel confident about their longer-term survival.
The survey has revealed that 10% of tourism businesses are still unable to reopen in a viable way, with an average capacity per business at just 75% of what it would normally be for hospitality companies in the region.
Staffing capacities are also reduced and 43% of businesses are keeping some staff on furlough, with 75% of businesses not planning to recruit.
23% of businesses plan redundancies, with management posts amongst the most common to go.
These results came before the Government’s latest Rule of Six announcement, which it is already impacting on bookings.
Cumbria Tourism is now teaming up with Tim Farron – alongside fellow Cumbria MPs and the Lake District Hotel Association (LDHA) – to renew its plea for urgent Government intervention to support jobs, businesses and customers through the challenging winter months.
- Support to help fund hospitality tourism jobs, November 2020 – March 2021
- Funding to support skills and business innovation, efficiency and development.
- Temporary extension of existing schemes
- VAT rate extension – the UK has some of the highest visitor taxes in the world
- Business rates holiday extension
- Business mortgage holiday extension
- Extension of business grant funding
- Extension of licensing and planning relaxations to support COVID-safe trading and extend the season
- Review Travel Package Regulations to help businesses work together to create holidays that appeal to visitors.
- A consistent UK wide approach to under 12s in the Rule of 6 changes
- Keep under constant review existing guidance and increase flexibility of group numbers when and where appropriate
- Review structure and funding of strategic Destination Management Organisations and regionally devolved marketing budgets to strengthen local recovery.
- Reintroduce ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ type initiatives during the winter months.
Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, comments: “Although most businesses were able to start reopening and welcome back staycationers from 4 July onwards, the results show there has been no automatic bounce back. Even before last week’s announcement regarding the rule of six and the implications this has for the hospitality sector and its customers, business confidence was plummeting.
“A number of crucial markets remain decimated, including international visitors, group travel, corporate, large parties, events and weddings. We had hoped to see some relaxation of corporate and possibly other restrictions, but this has now been paused. In July, serviced occupancy levels were on average just half of what they should be at one of the busiest times of the year.”
Ben Mayou, chairman of the Lake District Hotel Association, says, “Government initiatives such as furlough, grants, loans, VAT reductions and the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme have all been welcomed by the industry. Without them, many more jobs would have been lost. But as the main season now recedes and we head towards winter – generally a loss-making time of year for the industry – business confidence is plummeting. With no way of making up the income lost and the furlough scheme due to end on 31 October, we agree with the findings from Cumbria Tourism’s research that business survival confidence has worsened and back calls for this package of continued support.”