Not all industries are affected equally by the current lockdown, but for tourism businesses the latest bank holiday wipe out saw a national sector write off £2bn of Easter weekend trade by following drastic measures to help protect the country.
The tourism industry has sacrificed £2bn over the Easter holidays as seaside resorts across the country urged tourists to stay away despite the impact their absence will have on businesses.
While hospitals stand on the frontline against Covid-19, the lockdown is a second war with a frontline led by retail and tourism. The amusements sector in particular will be writing off a period of crucial income in the battle against Covid-19, with hotels, holiday parks, pubs and restaurants also taking a heavy hit from staying closed. To stay on their feet and keep up the fight, businesses are going to need more support from the government as the lockdown rolls on.
In Weston-Super- Mare, the site of the second-largest number of static caravans in the UK and where up to 200,000 additional visitors a day would normally visit over the Easter weekend, businesses are barely weathering the storm.
Alan House, director of Unity Holiday Park, a business that has been passed down his family for three generations, said the lockdown has been brutal for his business. Since the lockdown began, the House family’s park has continued to have six-figure monthly outgoings before wages, yet income has been reduced to nought.
“We have had to furlough 170 staff, but I have 200 acres of grounds and a golf course that need cutting, and privately-owned caravans that need security,” said House. “This has come at the worst possible time, Easter can be our busiest week of the year.
“Clearly, we can’t keep going forever, obviously we’re grateful for what support there is but we’re going to need more support, the tourism industry is going to need more support, it’s vitally important to the UK economy.”
A government spokesperson said this was on offer to tourist businesses through “the huge government support package for businesses and workers that includes a twelve-month business rates holiday and grants”, however it is clear that the tourism industry will need its own specialised support. Where most other businesses can still operate online, tourism businesses cannot.
“As soon as it is safe to do so we will encourage people to book a great British holiday,” added the spokesperson. “However at the moment it is of critical importance for people to stay at home – especially over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend – to protect the NHS and save lives.”
As a rallying call, that’s all well and good. But as a wake-up call the words are somewhat empty; for there to be a great British holiday after the lockdown ends, the businesses that make it great need to be protected far more than they currently are.