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Comment: Showing support for the inbound and domestic industry

Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston says he has ‘no doubt that innovative, fantastic and thriving sector will recover’

We are currently facing the biggest threat our country has experienced in decades and, of course, we in the UK are not alone.

All over the world, coronavirus is having a massive impact on our lives and on businesses from all sectors.

I recognise these are challenging and uncertain times for the UK’s tourism industry as a result of domestic and international travel restrictions and social distancing.

I am committed to supporting you through this period. I’m holding weekly meetings with trade bodies and tourism businesses to understand your concerns, and I am updating colleagues across Whitehall on the impacts of coronavirus on the sector to make sure that these concerns are being heard at the highest level.

In order to help you through this period, we have produced an unprecedented programme of support for both businesses and workers that will make a huge difference to people struggling from lost earnings.

The government’s £330 billion support package will help to protect businesses within the travel industry against the current economic emergency.  Many self-employed workers can now receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least three months. Those eligible for the new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will receive a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years. This matches up with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, where the Government committed to pay up to £2,500 each month in wages of employed workers who are furloughed during the outbreak.

We’ve also deferred the next quarter of VAT payments for firms until the end of June. I would urge you all to apply for the relevant funds so you get the support you are eligible for.

The Chancellor has also confirmed specific support for the tourism and hospitality sector. This includes a 12 month business rates holiday for most retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England. We also announced small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief and grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

I know this will not be a short battle, but the measures available will help to ensure that the industry has access to necessary support until we are through this pandemic.

Right now it is vital that we are all playing our part to stay at home and save lives. This will protect our incredible NHS and ensure that we limit the spread of this virus.

This is why I am calling on you all today to rally behind this important message and work with the government in any way you can. Only by pulling together in a national effort can we tackle this pandemic.

I know many of you are already working with local authorities and health services to offer accommodation for key workers and rough sleepers and for that I thank you. At this time of national emergency it is important that we all step up and do our bit.

While many companies are supporting the response, I do want to be clear that companies should not be encouraging people to book holidays or staycations at the current time, while the Government advice is to stay home.

As the wider economic picture becomes clearer, the Government will do whatever it takes to get our nation through the coronavirus outbreak and we stand ready to announce further action wherever necessary.

UK tourism is one of our nation’s biggest success stories and I have no doubt that our innovative, fantastic and thriving sector will recover.

The UK will not lose its breath-taking scenery, cultural cities, incredible history or our beautiful beaches and coastline, and as soon as it is safe to do so, we will be encouraging people to book a great British holiday and show our support for the UK’s travel industry.

When this is over, all across the country, our hotels, B&Bs, hostels, campsites and restaurants will still have that warm welcome and excellent service we’re so famous for. But at the moment we must stand firm and people must stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives.

I want to thank you all for your hard work to help our sector weather this storm. Working together, we will get through it.

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