The visitor economy sector has taken one of the biggest financial hits due to COVID-19. Gaps in support packages alongside the absence of the seasonal boost the industry usually sees over the summer means the impact of the pandemic will be felt in the weeks and months to come, with many at risk of closure.
- Councils play a key role in the tourism sector. They run tourism attractions, including castles and historic buildings, parks, piers, amusement parks, and destination management organisations. They are the largest public investor in cultural activity, spending over £1.1 billion a year on culture and heritage in England.
- The visitor economy sector has taken one of the biggest financial hits due to COVID-19. Gaps in support packages alongside the absence of the seasonal boost the industry usually sees over the summer means the impact of the pandemic will be felt in the weeks and months to come, with many at risk of closure.
- Whilst tourism generates billions of pounds for the national economy and our coastline is fundamental to it, there are significant challenges which existed before COVID-19. These include the negative impact of seasonality, low wages, over-dependence on out-dated infrastructure, and pressure on the environment.
- We are recommending that the Government invest at least £1 billion into the sector, as well as introducing a funding programme that builds on the work of the Cultural Destination Programme , Great Places Scheme , and Discover England Fund which enabled arts and culture organisations to increase their reach by working with the tourism sector.
- Tourism Zones, which were announced as part of the Tourism Sector Deal, should be expanded. This should include innovative options for raising finance, building on proposals from the Cultural Cities Enquiry , the option of a Tourism Levy, and business improvement districts.
- To avoid a cliff-edge, the Government should work to maximise 2020 income through extending the season into autumn and winter. Devolution and coordination of VisitBritain/England marketing funding to local areas should take place to enable creative approaches to boosting domestic tourism.
- Councils have a key role to play in national conversation on the visitor economy, given their unique position as direct deliverers of attractions, key transport infrastructure, funders, and curators of place. They should have representation on the Tourism Industry Council.