Coronavirus’ devastating impact could knock back tourism until next year
- Credit: Archant
Tourism chiefs are warning of the devastating impact that businessses could face due to the coronavirus crisis with some of them facing the prospect of not being able to open at all this year.
But there remained hope that some Suffolk businesses, such as those involved in self-catering accomodation and camping could re-open later this season.
“The pandemic has been devastating for tourism businesses and staff and it’s unlikely things will get back to normal any time soon,” said Pete Waters, executive director of Visit East of England.
“Some are looking at a three Winter scenario – the potential of not opening until next year with no trade in 2020 at all.
“Government financial packages have been welcomed, and undoubtedly helped many survive, but we would ask for a tourism-specific VAT exemption to ensure businesses can get through to next year.”
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A report from the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation (DMO) suggested that in 2018 nearly 15,000 people in east Suffolk alone, worked in tourism and relied on the industry for their income.
Chiara Saunders, chief officer at Citizen’s Advice in Leiston, Saxmundham and the surrounding areas said the lack of business in the area to date may prove a challenge later in the year.
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“Our people rely on the Easter to summer period to make the bulk of their income and they are going to still have to get through winter,” said Mrs Saunders.
Despite concerns, however, there are signs that some parts of the industry may be able to return in a new socially distant form.
“Hopefully, if people are responsible, and lockdown relaxed further, we can see self-catering accommodation, camping, Broads cruisers and the like opening their doors again very soon” said Mr Waters.
“We’re already seeing an uplift in traffic to the Visit Suffolk site so that’s a sure sign that people are starting to think about planning trips.”
Annie Willey, from the Suffolk Coast DMO, expressed optimism about what could be achieved by some parts of the industry.
“The picture is changing rapidly, some campsites and self catering businesses are hoping to be able to claw back some seasonal income if they can open in July, but we’ll just have to see what the recently relaxed restrictions mean in terms of R, to see if it will be possible,” said Mrs Willey.