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Tourism Sector: Covid-19 Support

Volume 683: debated on Thursday 5 November 2020

Covid-19 has had a severe impact on tourism, which is why we have provided a range of targeted measures to see the sector through this period. On top of the Government’s wider economic support package, we have provided business rates relief and grants for many in the sector, as well as a cut in VAT for tourism and hospitality activities until the end of March. We are continuing to engage with stakeholders to assess how we can most effectively support tourism’s recovery across the UK.

Harrogate and Knaresborough is in the top 10% of UK constituencies for hospitality employment. That includes a significant number of teams at B&Bs and guest houses, which are suffering from a lack of international visitors and the closure of the exhibition sector. There is a market that could be developed further to help, and that is domestic tourism. As we emerge from the pandemic and lockdown finishes, what will the Government do to promote domestic tourism?

I know my hon. Friend’s passion for tourism and representing his fantastic constituency. As he knows, we currently need people to stay at home to reduce transmission and to ease the pressure on our NHS, but when holidays are permitted again, we will work with VisitBritain, VisitEngland and local partners, including destination management organisations, to champion the UK’s diverse tourism offer, as we did with the Enjoy Summer Safely and Escape the Everyday campaigns. We will continue to work with the industry to provide guidance and assurance about when people can safely go on holiday, as demonstrated through initiatives such as the “We’re good to go” industry standard mark.

With the announcement of new restrictions until 2 December, will the Minister outline the support that will be available to my North Devon tourism and hospitality businesses that are understandably worried about the months ahead?

I appreciate that my hon. Friend is a great advocate for tourism, particularly in her constituency. I am fully aware of how tough the new measures will be for the tourism sector, with businesses having already faced many months of reduced trade. There are significant packages of financial support in place, as the furlough scheme and self-employed support have been extended for the period of lockdown. Many businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector will also receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the local restrictions support grant scheme. An additional £1.1 billion is being given to local authorities to help businesses more broadly, such as those severely impacted by restrictions but not actually forced to close.