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Source: City of Coventry

Published Thursday, 28 May 2020

Business and civic leaders in Coventry have joined forces in an appeal to MPs across the region to help the hospitality, tourism and leisure sector survive the coronavirus crisis.

Councillor Jim O’Boyle

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, and The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Louise Bennett, have penned an open letter to each MP across Coventry and Warwickshire to ask for their support for the sector. 

The letter, which was sent just in advance of English Tourism Week (May 25-31), has set out a range of measures that could mitigate the impact on the sector and calls for short term interventions to be complemented by longer-term actions.

It reads: “Hospitality, tourism and leisure is seen as a major contributor to our city’s and sub-regional economy, which is why, back in 2019, the city launched a new public/private Destination Partnership and a number of action-oriented sub-groups, including ‘Economy & Skills’.

“We are both actively engaged in the leadership of this work and, as one would expect, our energy and work now looks to the impact of COVID-19 and how we ensure our hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses are sustainable for the long term.

“You will know that English Tourism Week normally focuses on highlighting the UK visitor economy at home and abroad and, of course, attracting visitors to our regions. We now all find ourselves thinking about how we support this sector in its recovery, which is going to require not just short-term interventions, but longer-term thinking and actions.

“I think we all agree that hospitality, tourism and leisure will be the ‘hardest’ hit sector of the economy, but this is not just the hit on its GDP value, but the hidden (to some) consequences of a downturn in this sector.

“We are mindful of the fact that this sector is one of the largest supporters of young people in affording jobs and, often, those first opportunities to gain business skills and experience. A devastated tourism, hospitality and leisure sector will play-out into a dramatic impact on the job and skills opportunities for our young people if we do not act.”

The letter calls for: 

  • Much-needed and urgent clear guidelines for the opening up of the sector, which ‘sensibly’ differentiate those within the sector such as hotels, B&Bs, conference venues, festivals, large scale (mass gathering) venues. Clear guidelines would enable the sector to open up more quickly, but gradually and sensibly whilst ensuring everyone is Covid-19 safe.
  • Medium/longer term fiscal interventions for this sector, such as lower taxation regimes or a review of business rates.
  • An extension of the job retention scheme, beyond October, for this sector-only. A flexible Job Retention Scheme which encourages the sector to maintain employment and financially contribute to flexible working (alongside Government) at an acceptable level (living wage).
  • Longer term investment in this sector via business support programmes. Businesses in this sector do not see debt (loans) as a solution to their longevity and, historically, this sector would have been ineligible to many of the business support schemes and grant income, this will need to change in order to promote investment in sustainable businesses and the people they employ.

The letter goes on to say: “The reason we emphasise interventions and support for the long-term simply reflects that this sector’s own planning horizons are frequently long-term and although immediate interventions are to be welcomed, we must look to the future of this industry.”

For more information on English Tourism Week, go to the website.

MIL OSI United Kingdom