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Published on Monday, January 25, 2021

'Lap dancing clubs are worth saving, but travel isn't'

Bosses of the UK's inbound tourism industry say the Government believes lap dancing clubs are worth saving but inbound tourism isn't, as sexual entertainment clubs and hostess bars are eligible for business grants.

The Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), Coach Tourism Association (CTA), Confederation of Passenger Transport (CTP UK), English UK, ETOA, Tourism Alliance and UKinbound have all collectively expressed their 'despair and disbelief' that the Government has denied businesses in the inbound tourism sector - which they say generated £28.4 billion in export earnings for the UK economy in 2019 - access to the latest Covid-19 support.

The group of inbound transport tourism and event bodies says the Government's latest 'Business Support Package for January Lockdown', which includes a Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment and Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum adds 'insult to injury' by providing further support of up to £13,500 for sexual entertainment venues, while excluding these tourism businesses from applying.                       

The group says that since March 2020, the Government has stated that sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars are specifically eligible for Business Grants, Local Restriction Support Grants (LRSG) and Business Rates Relief.

However, four 'incredibly valuable' export earning tourism and transport sectors, which have been effectively closed for almost a year, continue to be excluded.

The following sectors generate £17.5 billion and 275,000 jobs for the UK economy, but they are not listed as businesses that should be eligible for support, even though inbound tourism figures are down 95% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The sectors include: Tour Operators/Destination Management Companies (DMCs), Coach Operators, Language Schools and Event Organisers.

These associations and their members have contacted ministers, MPs and Government officials 'over 100 times'to outline why these businesses should be supported and to ask for the eligibility criteria to be changed to include them. 

Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound said "By refusing to support these businesses the Government is undermining an integral economic recovery channel. International inbound tourism is the UK's third largest service export, earning the UK economy £28bn in 2019, and tour operator/DMCs alone bring in over half of all international visitors. With our travel corridors closed these businesses are now on the brink of survival after being left in the cold by existing Government support schemes.

"Without support and a clear Government roadmap for reopening we risk the near total collapse of the UK's inbound tourism industry. When we can travel again international visitors will choose to visit other European destinations rather than the UK, causing irrevocable damage to the communities and regions who rely on tourism, leaving the Government's Global Britain and levelling up ambitions in tatters."

Kurt Janson, director, Tourism Alliance said: "Supporting these businesses is key to the success of the Government's Aviation and Tourism Recovery Plans. Ramping up marketing activity in overseas source markets through VisitBritain and the GREAT campaign later this year will be of limited success if there are no events for people to come to, no tour operators to convert the interest and sell the product, if the language schools have closed, and if there are no coach companies to transport tour groups around the UK."

Robert Shaw, chair, Coach Tourism Association, said Government support for coach tour operators during the pandemic has been 'patchy at best', with many left to cope without any significant support beyond furlough since the first lockdown.

"Our sector's customers will be desperate to take coach holidays once it becomes safe to travel again, and it is vital that coach businesses are able to meet that need and continue delivering tourists and their significant spending power to destinations and regions across the UK."

Simon Hughes, chairman, Business Visits and Events Partnership said event organisers had 'fallen through the cracks of Government support.

"Yet they are the core of a £70 billion industry sector which employs 700,000 people. Many are small and individual businesses that do not have the means to survive a period of trading inactivity, that is already nearly 12 months long and could last well into the latter part of 2021.

"Given that there are over 5 million inbound visits to the UK annually to attend a business event, generating a spend of £3.5 billion, providing adequate support to event organisers is critical to the economic recovery of the UK."

by Louise Longman, Contributing Editor (UK)




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