Young UK holidaymakers are encouraged to take UK city breaks and visit indoor attractions this fall and winter, as part of a campaign designed to help hospitality and tourism businesses weather the crisis current coronavirus.
Managed by Visit Britain, the digital ‘Escape the Everyday’ campaign will launch in September and will promote short breaks and day trips across the UK, with a major focus on city tourism.
Spending by domestic visitors is expected to fall 49% in 2020, with a loss of £ 44.9 billion to the economy, according to Visit Britain. With most of the major foreign markets, including the United States, France and China, subject to quarantine rules, inbound tourism spending has also taken a critical hit and is expected to fall by 63% in 2020, a loss estimated at £ 19.7 billion for the economy.
Cities have been hit much harder than rural areas, with a triple whammy of lack of international tourism, people working from home and event cancellations. Businesses in the city are trading at around 30% of capacity, compared to 60-70% in rural areas, according to UK Hospitality. “There is a very real danger of the donut effect,” said CEO Kate Nicholls. “Where footfall in city centers declines, businesses suffer – not just the hotel industry but also shops and other outlets. A quarter of the sites will be lost before the start of the next tourist season [if the situation doesn’t improve]. »
For central London attractions that rely heavily on foreign visitors, the picture is even bleaker. The latest government figures based on data from nine museums and galleries in central London show that visits for the week of August 10-16 were 15.1% of the August daily average over the previous three years.
The British Museum will reopen on August 27 with visitor numbers capped at 2,000 per day, up from 15 to 20,000 per day before Covid in August. The Tower of London reports similar figures, with around 2,500 visitors “on good days” compared to 12 to 15,000 previously.
“As a charity, the Historic Royal Palaces, which has four in London and one in Northern Ireland, depend on visitors for 80% of our income, so we have been particularly affected by this crisis and are now facing a deficit of £ 98 million. in our finances, ”said Tower of London spokesperson Laura Hutchinson. “Some 60-70% of our annual visitors are typically international tourists, so we expect our recovery to be slow and take place over several years.”
The constant nervousness associated with being in high traffic environments and traveling by public transport is a major barrier to tourism in cities. Visit the UK Weekly Consumer Study on National Mood and Propensity to Travel shows 46% of people think the worst is yet to come in terms of coronavirus, the second highest score since research began in May , and the appetite to travel by public transport has barely increased in the past three months. The attractions hope that targeting young people, who are less risk averse, will go some way in mitigating the drop in visitor numbers. “Younger people who would normally travel to cities abroad around this time probably need the most compelling and engaging message to see what they have on their doorstep,” Donoghue said.
He believes that one way to remedy the reluctance to visit city centers is to publicize the R-rate in cities in the same way pollen counts are published. “London, for example, has one of the lowest R rates in the country. We suggested this to the mayor’s office and the digital, culture, media and sports department – that it would help people make informed decisions.
Tourism companies hope the August holiday will boost late summer spending, but encouraging people to spend their vacations beyond the end of summer vacation will be key to making up for the loss. of income. “We’re going to need a lot of visitors throughout the fall and winter to help businesses trade profitably,” said Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications for Visit Britain.