Published on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

UK tour operators and DMCs are 'starved of financial support and risk collapse'

UKinbound is warning the Government that its members are at 'grave risk of collapse' as they're being starved of the financial support being given to other leisure businesses.

Despite the Chanceller and HM Treasury's repeated claims that all businesses in the leisure sector are eligible for support, UKinbound says tour operators and destination management companies have been excluded.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHLG) has taken the view that tour operators and DMCs are not leisure businesses as customers don't enter premises to make a purchase.

UKinbound has written to MHCLG asking it to amend the guidance to local authorities on Business Rates Relief and grants 'as quickly as possible' to include tour operators and destination management companies.

CEO Joss Croft said:"This arbitrary decision to instruct local councils to exclude certain tourism businesses from vital financial support is not only confusing and frustrating for all involved, it also shows a real lack of understanding of how our industry operates. For example, a travel agent that sells a customer a ticket for a tour is eligible for support but the tour operator that actually takes the customer on the tour is not.

"Failing to help these businesses also puts at risk thousands of other businesses that generate a large percentage of the revenue that the UK earns from inbound tourism. Last year inbound tourism generated £28.4 billion for the UK economy.

"Furthermore, all local authorities benefit from a strong visitor economy and losing key businesses will significantly impact on their budgets, including their ability to raise income to reinvest in local public services.

"My members are of course very grateful for all the support that the Government has put in place for the tourism industry to date, such as the Job Retention Scheme and financial loans and many of my members are now thankfully preparing to re-open their businesses in the coming weeks.

"However, tour operator members, who rely almost 100% on international visitors for their income, are now facing the likelihood of earning no income over the peak summer months, due to uncertainty over international travel restrictions and UK quarantine measures, which will add further to their financial problems.

"We are therefore asking Government to amend the guidance to Local Authorities on Business Rates Relief and grants as quickly as possible, so it fully reflects the Government's intention to provide support for all leisure businesses."

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