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‘Still a job to do’ in boosting domestic holiday booking confidence

Domestic tourism spending in England is estimated to generate just over half of the £91.6 billion achieved in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

This year’s projected figure of £51.4 billion came as VisitEngland prepares for English Tourism Week in an effort to support for tourism businesses and destinations across the sector as they reopen and start to rebuild.

Last year alone saw about two-thirds of the value wiped off the domestic tourism industry, a £58 billion loss to the economy, according to the tourism agency’s latest forecasts.

VisitEngland’s latest consumer sentiment research has shows “slow but steady” gains in consumer confidence in taking domestic trips from late spring and rising through summer.

Twenty per cent of people surveyed were confident in the ability to take a domestic overnight trip in May, rising to 38% in June, 45% in July, 55% in August and 61% from September onwards as the industry seeks to extend the tourism season.

But VisitEngland admitted that “there is still a job to do to boost consumer confidence”.

The study also showed that while bookings for domestic trips for spring had accelerated, with just under half of domestic trips planned between May and June booked, the summer months are slower with just over one in five trips between July to September booked, suggesting a “wait and see” approach.

The next phase of VisitEngland’s ‘Escape the Everyday’ promotion is due in the coming weeks, encouraging domestic breaks with a focus also on cities and city visitor attractions as well as regional gateways, which have been hit hard by a lack of international visitors and their spending.

More than 27,000 businesses across England have signed up to VisitEngland’s ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and consumer mark, reassuring customers, staff and local residents that the correct procedures and processes are in place to welcome them back safely.

Speaking ahead of English Tourism Week on May 22-31, tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said: “The tourism sector has undoubtedly faced enormous challenges over the past year. This is why we have provided over £25 billion in support to date, including the unprecedented VAT cut.

“Tourism and hospitality businesses across the country have continually impressed me with their ability to adapt over the past year and I know they’re all ready to welcome us back.

“English tourism has so much to offer, from rural retreats to city breaks. I can’t wait to get out there exploring and I urge everyone to join me in supporting our fantastic tourism sector by taking a domestic holiday over the coming months.”

VisitEngland is encouraging people to share photos and social media posts to show support for the sector using #EnglishTourismWeek21.

Toolkits and a series of posters have been produced for tourism businesses and destinations to download.

VisitEngland and local destinations are also asking MPs, local authorities, the government and other stakeholders to get involved and show their support by visiting local businesses and attractions during the week.

VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes added: “Our annual event to celebrate and champion English tourism has never been more important, providing a timely opportunity to show the outstanding offer here on our doorstep as we head in to the critical summer season and to support local businesses and visitor attractions, who have lost months of vital trading, as they reopen and rebuild.

“By highlighting the quality and sheer diversity of tourism products, destinations and experiences across England we also hope people will consider an extra holiday at home this year, exploring somewhere new, revisiting a favourite attraction or taking a city-break. With international tourists slower to return this is also the year to rediscover the crown jewels of English tourism in our vibrant city centres.

“Millions of jobs and local economies rely on tourism and businesses and destinations have been working flat-out, innovating and adapting to safely welcome visitors back and making sure they have a great experience.”

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