After 20 months without income or the Government support promised, the new Test and Isolation restrictions have proved the final nail in the coffin for many companies in the GBP28.4billion inbound tourism industry who are now going under.
Emmanuelle Spriet-Toussaint, the founder of e-VOYAGES and the Save Inbound Tourism lobby group, says: “We’re the third-largest Service Export Industry in the nation, yet the Government’s imposition of restrictions and subsequent lack of support for tourism is a farce. We were promised Rate reliefs and grants in March 2020 and still nothing has been delivered.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted that pre-departure testing could “kill off” the industry and so was unlikely to happen, yet a day later, Health Secretary Sajid Javid overruled him and imposed draconian measures which British Airways complained were “completely out of step with the rest of the world”.
Ms Spriet-Toussaint explains, “The government just fiddles whilst Rome burns. Our valuable industry was told to take out loans, so we’re now drowning in debt, yet now they tell us to borrow more – but my bank has just refused another loan because we are in the travel industry and restrictions mean we cannot get back on our feet.
“Chancellor Sunak is making great play over his return from California to meet with the hospitality sector, which has been thriving over the last six months, but since the government shut us down again three weeks ago, they ignored our numerous requests for meetings. While the government has provided direct support and grants to other industries, it has effectively closed us without providing the support needed to preserve the sector.”
This contrasts starkly with European countries such as France, Germany, Portugal and Ireland who have all supported their tourism sector to allow them to steal market share when the UK Inbound tourism sector collapses.
Adds Ms Spriet-Toussaint, “What British people don’t realise is that the death of Inbound tourism will not only increase their costs of flying abroad, it will also kill off the amazing heritage of British culture: the pubs, West End theatres, attractions, hotels, restaurants, the retail sector and even aviation all need international visitors to survive.
“Our industry demands the rate reliefs and grants the Chancellor promised in March last year but never delivered and the creation of a Tourism Resilience Fund to ensure we survive through the winter and long enough to continue to be the major player that we are in supporting the economy once again.”