Study plots affects of pandemic on tourism industry

A new study by NatWest has found that more than half of leisure and tourism business lost more than 60 per cent of their revenue in recent months and that most don't expect a real recovery to be evident before 2022.

The NatWest North of England Tourism Barometer study took place across 16 weeks, beginning in mid-July, and the results included the end of the lockdown and the government's launch of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The study worked with nine local tourism boards, including Marketing Lancashire, who recruited businesses from within their economies. 

The findings showed that half of hospitality and leisure businesses across north of England were trading at a loss of over 60 per cent for 10 weeks out of 16-week survey.

Businesses expect revenue to recover in January 2022, compared to previous outlook of July 2021 at start of study, though 21 per cent of businesses were unsure that they will still be trading next summer.

Richard Topliss, chairman of the NatWest Regional Board, North, said: "Tourism and the wider hospitality and leisure sector has faced and continues to endure unprecedented challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The tourism barometer has charted the ups and downs of businesses in the sector over the last four months and the final survey points to low confidence for the immediate future, and hence, the need for central and local government support, alongside business leaders and providers of finance, to work together to help the sector rebuild for the future when it becomes clear that widespread vaccination will permit a new normal to emerge for tourism."

Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, said: "In the early weeks of the study, it looked as though Lancashire was beginning to recover well. Businesses had worked hard to make sure that they were Covid-secure, and consumer and business confidence was growing as bookings came back.

"However, it is clear that the impact of additional restrictions and then the three-tier system quickly took their toll, and both forward bookings and business confidence slumped. The opportunity to claw back revenue over the widely predicted staycation 'boom' was so short, that many businesses are now facing the feared ‘third winter’ in a row, and a winter without the usual Christmas revenue." 

Rachel added: "Our businesses have done absolutely everything asked of them, and yet many are struggling to survive through no fault of their own. There will be no 'bounce back', we need to support them throughout 2021 and beyond to slowly rebuild, or these amazing assets that mean so much to residents and visitors alike could be lost forever."

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