UK tourism businesses facing a cliff edge due to inflated cost of testing and hard to understand rules

UKinbound says it has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, pleading with him not to abandon the inbound tourism industry, which is on the cusp of recovery.

UKinbound is a travel trade association that focuses solely on the inbound tourism sector and says that tourism businesses are facing a cliff edge due to the inflated cost of testing and hard to understand rules around when and where you can travel.

In its correspondence with the Chancellor the association explained that since 12 April, most sectors across the UK were able to start trading again and are now already four months into their recovery.

In stark contrast, the first meaningful reopening of international travel was August 2, by which time the vast majority of international tourists had already opted to cancel their summer holidays to the UK, due to a lack of clarity and ever-changing entry requirements.

UK Inbound also says that many international visitors are opting to holiday in destinations that have easy-to-understand COVID guidelines that do not consistently change.

The inflated price of testing, the type and number of tests, and the fact that many other countries in Europe do not require vaccinated arrivals to take any test, were also highlighted as the fundamental barriers stopping recovery.

The association presented the Chancellor with two key asks –

• Extend furlough until end of April 2022 – specifically for the UK’s tourism industry
• Create the Tourism Export Recovery Fund (TERF) – a £45 million fund to secure £28.4 billion of exports. UKinbound’s TERF proposal was issue to the Treasury on 1 July and can be viewed here.

The letter comes as UKinbound also releases its latest Business Barometer* member survey results, which has shown that one in three businesses don’t expect to survive longer than six months, considering current Government support, putting at risk thousands of jobs.

The research also showed that 82% of tour operators have seen their revenue reduce by over 90% since March 2020.

Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound comments: “Inbound tourism businesses such as tour operators and DMCs face a cliff edge on the 1 October when furlough ceases due to the Government misconception that these businesses have been in recovery for many months and have large levels of new revenue coming in.

“The upcoming nine months will be critical, but it’s essential that Government extends furlough and provides targeted support to the UK’s 230 inbound tour operators and DMCs to ensure their survival during winter, so that UK tourism can make its vital contribution to our national economic recovery and maintain its position as a desirable and globally competitive destination.”