A public holiday in October could help the UK tourism industry recover as it is expected to lose billions of pounds from the coronavirus, a select committee learned.
Patricia Yates, Acting Director General of Visit Britain, said the industry lost profits on the two statutory holidays in May due to containment.
She added that a break in October could help extend the holiday season beyond the summer months.
Yates said 2020 must be “the year of domestic tourism”, but it will be difficult to convince people that it is safe to travel.
Other industry leaders have also spoken of people’s lack of confidence, even when it comes to traveling to the UK.
Losses are felt due to sharp drop in visitors to international and domestic markets and there are fears that more businesses will disappear in the fall, heard the Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and sports.
Ms. Yates, giving estimates of how much the industry has lost due to missed holidays, told the committee, “Every time we model the numbers get worse.
“So for newcomers I mean at the start of this year we are looking at around £ 26.6 billion from inbound tourism – we’re expecting a £ 15 billion drop on this.
“And for the domestic market, an industry that is normally worth around £ 80 billion, a drop of $ 22 billion from that. “
She said these numbers were before the impact of all forties the measures still to be introduced have been taken into account.
Yates said there was “real work to be done to convince people that it is socially responsible to travel and enjoy a vacation, and that it is safe to do so.”
His comments were echoed by Ros Pritchard, executive director of the British Holiday and Home Park Association, who said that there have been cases of “vigilante” in some nervous communities of people visiting after weeks of tourists having received the order to stay away.
She said, “When we have vacation parks, let’s say with NHS workers because we have housed key workers when we can, we have supervisors to check them out and report them to council and the police – who are these people your vacation park, what are they doing there?
“This negative, anti-sentiment is going to be a problem. “
She added that the government needs to show leadership if the message is to get around telling people to stay home and encourage visitors.
Samantha Richardson, Director of the National Coastal Tourism Academy, said that 7% of businesses in coastal communities have closed permanently and that estimates suggest that up to 25% of accommodation will be lost along the coast as a direct result of the pandemic .
Hilary McGrady, Executive Director of the National Trust, said the estimated impact of COVID-19 on the charity is expected to cost “around £ 200 million” this year.
The trust closed all properties on March 20.
Although she said parks and gardens will be the first to reopen, National Trust homes are unlikely to reopen before the end of August.
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Yates said Visit Britain is already considering intensifying marketing in Ireland, which will be exempt from quarantine measures for international travel.
She added that agreements between certain countries where quarantine rules might not apply was an “interesting” idea, citing France, Germany, Italy and Spain as particularly important markets.