‘Lap dancing clubs worth saving, but inbound tourism isn’t’: CTA

Tourism sector hits back at government aid which chooses night clubs over inbound tourism worth billions to the economy

The Coach Tourism Association (CTA) has joined with other tourism trade bodies to challenge government policy on allocating discretionary grants to support the sector’s businesses affected by Covid lockdowns.

CTA, alongside The Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), Confederation of Passenger Transport, English UK, ETOA, Tourism Alliance and UKinbound, has expressed despair and disbelief that government has again chosen to deny businesses in the inbound tourism sector, which generated £28.4billion in export earnings for the UK economy in 2019, access to the latest Covid-19 support.

Since March 2020, the Government has stated that sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars are specifically eligible for Business Grants, Local Restriction Support Grants and Business Rates Relief. However, four valuable export-earning tourism and transport sectors, which have been effectively closed for almost a year, continue to be excluded, including Coach Operators, Tour Operators/Destination Management Companies, Language Schools and Event Organisers.

These sectors generate £17.5billion and 275,000 jobs for the UK economy, but they are not listed as businesses that should be eligible for support, even though inbound tourism figures are down 95% as a result of Coronavirus.

Robert Shaw, chair, Coach Tourism Association, says: “Direct government support to coach tour operators during the pandemic has been patchy at best, with many left to cope without any significant support beyond furlough since the first lockdown. Our sector’s customers will be desperate to take coach holidays once it becomes safe to travel again, and it is vital that coach businesses are able to meet that need and continue delivering tourists and their significant spending power to destinations and regions across the UK.”

The government’s latest “Business Support Package for January Lockdown”, which includes a Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment and LRSG (Closed) Addendum adds insult to injury by providing further support of up to £13,500 for sexual entertainment venues, while again excluding these tourism businesses from applying.

These associations and their members have contacted ministers, MPs and government officials more than 100 times to outline why these businesses should be supported (previously profitable, generate billions for the UK economy and will significantly aid the UK’s economic recovery) and to ask for the eligibility criteria to be changed to include them. These requests continue to be ignored by government.

Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound says: “By refusing to support these businesses the Government is undermining an integral economic recovery channel. International inbound tourism is the UK’s third largest service export, earning the UK economy £28bn in 2019, and tour operator/ DMCs alone bring in over half of all international visitors. With our travel corridors closed these businesses are now on the brink of survival after being left in the cold by existing Government support schemes.”

Alison Edwards, Head of Policy, CPT UK, adds: “Coach operators are a vital part of the tourism sector with over 23 million visits each year made to attractions across the UK by coach. If the Government wants coach tourism to help kick start our economic recovery it needs to ensure operators can access the support available to the wider leisure and tourism industry as a matter of urgency.”

Kurt Janson, Director, Tourism Alliance, says: “Ramping up marketing activity in overseas source markets through VisitBritain and the GREAT campaign later this year will be of limited success if there are no events for people to come to, no tour operators to convert the interest and sell the product, if the language schools have closed, and if there are no coach companies to transport tour groups around the UK.”

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