Increase in tourism bookings ahead of potential July 4 reopening date
PUBLISHED: 19:00 17 June 2020
Tourism providers in Suffolk are ‘desperate’ to reopen for business at the start of next month with an increase in bookings reported - but many are eagerly awaiting for the government’s approval to unlock the industry.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously suggested the UK’s hospitality sector, which has struggled during the coronavirus lockdown, will be able to reopen from July 4.
With Visit Suffolk estimating tourism bringing £2billion to the county’s economy, many providers have been taking bookings for the coming weeks and months to get the industry back on track.
But the lack of a definitive reopening date has left many businesses in the dark over whether they will be permitted to safely reopen at the usual peak of the summer season.
Tourism experts have also issued a stark warning on the future on the sector and said businesses need time to plan ahead.
Annie Willey, brand manager at The Suffolk Coast, said tourism providers throughout the county are hoping for the government to publish guidance on reopening the industry as soon as possible.
She said: “There’s definitely been an increase in interest and bookings recently.
“Part of the reason is that providers are now offering flexible bookings. They want to give as much confidence to the customer as possible.
“There are some which are not taking deposits, or offering a full refund if restrictions force bookings to be cancelled.
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“If providers don’t start taking bookings now they are going to really struggle.
“But without guidelines, businesses such as holiday parks cannot fully calculate viability. You can’t just open the doors.
“A lot of businesses have been making plans, stocking up on PPE - irrespective of guidelines being released.”
Pete Waters, of Visit East Anglia, said the government’s decision on tourism hinges on the risk of a second spike of Covid-19 cases.
He said: “People have been making tentative bookings, but we need the go-ahead from the government. We are hoping the hospitality sector can reopen on July 4.
“Everybody is desperate to get going again, but only when it is safe.
“If there is a second spike that would be it. It would decimate the tourism industry.”
Alex Tarry, director of Best of Suffolk, said his firm will be providing “no-quibble” refunds if plans are forced to be scrapped if the government does not allow businesses to reopen.
He added: “We are already taking bookings for guests to arrive on or after July 4.
“The biggest thing we’re looking to achieve is a safe but fun summer of holidays for our guests.
“We want visitors to revitalise the local economy, shop locally, enjoy themselves and come back to Suffolk for years to come.”
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