Published on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

PM considers extra bank holiday in October as tourism businesses warn of winter collapse

VisitBritain acting CEO Patricia Yates is calling for an extra bank holiday in October to help Britain's tourism industry recover some of the £37 billion in trade lost during the coronavirus crisis.

Yates told MPs that an additional day off would stimulate demand when it's possible to travel again.

The UK has already 'lost' three bank holidays during the lockdown.

Downing Street said Prime Minister Boris Johnson would consider of an extra bank holiday but warned that extra days off come with economic costs. The Government claimed the extra bank holiday awarded workers in June 2012 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee cost between £1.2 billion and £3.6 billion.

Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis posted on Twitter: "Why do we want another bank holiday this year? Too little inactivity isn't this year's problem."

Speaking at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee meeting, Yates about the impact of coronavirus on tourism, Yates said: "Every time we do the modelling the figures get worse.

'So for inbound, I mean we were looking at the beginning of this year at about £26.6 billion coming from inbound tourism, we reckon a £15 billion drop on that.

"And for domestic, an industry that's normally worth about £80 billion, a £22 billion drop on that.

"And that's actually before we've factored in the quarantine because we don't clearly quite know what the measures are going to look like.

"So have an October bank holiday around half term, because what we're going to need to do is not just generate people in July and August, but really extend the season this year for the domestic market."

Yates warned that without support, tourism businesses are likely to fail this winter.

"We've lost the 2020 season, effectively. And we are going to need help to get through to next spring. So I think the winter is when we will see businesses fail without that support," she told ministers.

Following news that the Government is planning to introduce a 14-day quarantine for overseas visitors from early next month, Visit Britain is looking at stepping up marketing in Ireland as it will be exempt.

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