Travel trade association UKinbound, which represents more than 400 tourism and hospitality businesses, has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask for "urgent and aggressive" government intervention to protect the industry.
According to UKinbound, urgent measures needed include:
- Guidance on how businesses can apply for Business Interruption Loans as soon as possible.
- Extending rate relief to medium and large businesses, not just to SMEs.
- Corporation tax, VAT, PAYE and other tax payments to be deferred for a minimum of 12 months.
- Employees in tourism and hospitality who have been temporarily laid off, forced to take unpaid leave or put on reduced salaries to be compensated (as in other European countries, such as Germany, France and Denmark).
- Suspending the requirement for tour operators to refund customers who cannot travel and instead issue credit notes valid for 12 months.
The government is expected to make an announcement later today regarding further financial support for the economy.
Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, said: "These are desperate and unprecedented times and the only way of ensuring the survival of our vital industry, that employs one in 12 people across all parts of the UK, is with government support.
"The UK's tourism and hospitality industry simply has no revenue stream or working capital with which to sustain itself, and so we hope that the chancellor's announcement today about further financial support for the economy will include our sector. Additionally, any support packages must be rolled out and available immediately with absolutely clear guidance; tourism businesses have days, not weeks, in which to survive."
Following businesses already seeing a marked decline in footfall and sales due to the coronavirus outbreak, the prime minister advised the British public yesterday to avoid pubs and restaurants but fell short of asking them to close.
Business owners said the situation left them in limbo, unable to file insurance claims but facing the prospect of having no customers to serve, with some describing it as "the worst possible situation".
More than 75,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to support hospitality businesses and Azzurri Group chief executive Steve Holmes told The Caterer yesterday that, without government intervention, the shape of the casual dining industry "will be changed forever".