COVID-19: Visit Britain sets out plans to reboot UK tourism

Much of the UK’s car parks, public toilets and public spaces will reopen this month as social distancing measures begin to loosen.

It comes after the Prime Minister set out a roadmap to restarting the economy, which involves gradually reopening schools, shops, workplaces, and attractions over time.

However, he confirmed that the UK would impose a two-week quarantine policy on travellers entering the UK from overseas (apart from those arriving from France), in a move which is expected to grind much of the £127 billion UK tourism industry to a halt for months to come.

Likewise, local councils – who usually rely on summertime tourism – have actively told visitors to stay away, further damaging the survival chances of tourism businesses in the UK.

According to official figures, around 80 per cent of workers in the hotel and food industries, and around 68 per cent of those in the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, have been placed on furlough. The same figures suggest that around a third of jobs are “permanently at risk in the longer term” in tourism-reliant areas – such as the Lake District, Cornwall, and Yorkshire.

To combat this, Visit Britain, the national tourism agency, has revealed plans to boost domestic tourism by introducing physical distancing symbols for hotels and attractions. They said such measures could encourage visitors to return once lockdown measures are lifted.

Visit Britain’s acting chief executive, Patricia Yates, said the plans come in response to a shift in consumer behaviour, who are likely concerned about their safety.

As part of these plans, Ms Yates said she will also be asking policymakers to encourage tourism as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so. The worry is that Brits will continue to stay at home until a vaccine has been rolled out.

Likewise, the British Holiday and Home Parks Association said it has experienced “a lot of interest for bookings” and a “big latent demand to get out and about”.

However, the overarching message for now is to stay home and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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