Posted: 13.02.21 at 10:00 by VisitBritain CEO Sally Balcombe
VisitBritain CEO Sally Balcombe writes for Nub News.
As we approach the February half term, a time when many of us would usually have been looking forward to a short-break away, the impact on the industry and the economy from the loss of tourism again comes into sharp focus.
Millions of jobs and local economies depend on tourism right across the country and businesses have lost many months of vital trading.
VisitBritain has already forecast a £57.2 billion loss to the economy in Britain from domestic tourism spending in 2020 alone.
It has been encouraging to hear from a number of destinations that interest and enquiries for holidays at home have seen an up-tick in recent days. That is from a very low base of course and much will depend on the situation in the run-up to spring and crucially as we approach the summer.
We can start to see some green shoots on the horizon and gains in consumer confidence in the ability to take domestic overnight trips from late spring, rising through summer and into autumn and beyond, demonstrating the importance of also extending the tourism season this year.
We also know that there will be a big job to do to boost confidence.
Our latest domestic consumer sentiment research showed that 20 per cent of people we surveyed were confident of taking a domestic overnight trip in May, rising to 32% in June, 49% from July to September and 63% from October onwards.
As well as hygiene, our research shows that people are seeking assurances when booking and planning accommodation including incentives and free cancellations. Businesses have responded time-and-again demonstrating their flexibility and outstanding customer service in the face of huge challenges.
Tourism businesses and visitor attractions have worked flat-out to welcome customers back safely, adapting and innovating to meet new ways of working while still providing a great visitor experience.
More than 42,000 businesses across the UK have signed up to our ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and consumer mark, reassuring customers, staff and local residents that the correct procedures are in place on social distancing and cleanliness. Our ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign will also be supporting tourism businesses and reassuring visitors by encouraging people to check about what it is safe to do and when.
We are all looking forward to brighter and warmer days ahead and many of us to when we can explore once more with our family and friends.
We have an incredible tourism offer right here on our doorstep.
There is just so much to do and see here in Britain. From contemporary culture in our vibrant cities to our stunning coastlines and seaside destinations, from our heritage, countryside and adventure tourism to our outstanding B&Bs and self-catering accommodation, consistently rated as some of the best in the world.
Our tourism sector, employing 3.1 million people and supporting 200,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs, many in coastal towns and rural communities, is one of this country’s greatest industries.
It is going to need all of us to make sure it bounces back once more.
For now, we must stay at home and enjoy our travelling online. When we can roam again, and following official government guidance, we hope that people who maybe have not holidayed at home before will try a domestic break and some of us might explore somewhere new.
Our tourism businesses and visitor attractions will be ready to welcome you back and very pleased to see you.
For future travel inspiration please see: https://www.visitbritain.com/gb/en