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Published on Thursday, July 23, 2020

Inbound sector 'on its knees' amid fears of mass job losses

UKinbound has pleaded for urgent help from the Government amid fears its members will be forced to shed 10,000 jobs.

And more than half of the losses will come before the end of the year unless there is immediate intervention, UKinbound Chief Executive Josh Croft warned.

He said there were "grave concerns" for the future of its tour operator and destination management company (DMC) members with many "on their knees".

The plea came as a report by MPs failed to recognise the threat of Covid-19 to the tourism industry

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Croft called for a Tourism Resilience Fund to help businesses survive until the anticipated return of the market in spring 2021.

He also insisted rate relief and grants should be amended to include tour operators and DMCs.

Meanwhile, national Insurance and corporation tax holidays should be provided for the sector until the market recovers

"Many tour operators and DMCs across the country, who rely solely on international visitors for their livelihoods, are on their knees," Croft said. "Unfortunately their futures look very uncertain without targeted Government intervention.

"Before the pandemic, these businesses were viable and successful and delivered a large proportion of visitation outside of London. Unfortunately significant economic benefits to the UK's nations and regions will be vastly eroded if these businesses go under and jobs are lost.

"Immediate support is needed, and we implore the Prime Minister to listen."

Croft said the creation of a fund for UK tour operators and DMCs would provide a lifeline for ailing businesses.

It would "allow them access to rate relief and grant support", Croft said, adding that a national insurance and corporate tax holiday would also help ease the significant financial strain.

"Unlike many other tourism businesses such as attractions, restaurants, hotels and bars who can re-open and hopefully benefit from increased domestic tourism this summer, tour operators and DMCs have not seen an uptick in international tourists wanting to come to the UK and instead have seen extensive cancellations over the summer months and into the autumn," Croft continued.

"These businesses will have earnt no revenue since March and are unlikely to until the start of next year's tourism season.

"The industry is incredibly grateful for all the support the Chancellor has already provided, but now we need a targeted approach that will secure jobs and businesses in the inbound tourism industry, who will be vital to our long term economic recovery, a successful Brexit and the Government's ambitions for a truly global Britain."

While the plea focused on the short term, UKinbound also called for longer term support.

This included financial support to promote and 'sell' the UK at international sales missions and exhibitions, more resources for VisitBritain to promote the UK as safe and welcoming, a temporary 12-month suspension of Air Passenger Duty and the introduction of a new five-year visitor visa for India and China tourists.

By Steve Jones, Contributing Editor


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