More than 200,000 tourism and hospitality businesses are dependent for their survival on overseas tourists returning to 69 cities across the UK, say tourism leaders.
They have written to the Prime Minister warning that these businesses will struggle to remain viable if international visitors don’t return this year.
Foreign visitors spend almost three times more than domestic tourists during their trip, according to an ONS Great British Tourism Survey, which found that Brits spend just £239, while foreigners shell out £696.
Brits would need to take an additional 55.8 million overnight leisure trips this year to make up for the lack of international visitors, but VisitBritain has forecast that spending on domestic holidays in the UK in 2021 will drop by 33%, compared to 2019.
The letter to the PM from UKinbound and seven tourism bodies said the UK needs to welcome back international visitors ‘via a risk-based approach’.
It has asked the PM and the Government for:
- Fluid, easy access to the UK for inbound visitors from green countries
- A cost-effective COVID testing system, including the removal of VAT
- Funds for VisitBritain to start international marketing of the UK abroad ASAP
UKinbound CEO Joss Croft said: “As we progress from Step 2 to Step 3 in the reopening roadmap it is critical that cities are not left behind as the country moves forward with recovery. We can’t rely on domestic tourism to make up for the short fall and spend of international visitors, especially in our cities.
“As we forge ahead with a new Global Britain post Brexit, the success of cities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be vital. We face the prospect of boarded up shops and restaurants, and the vibrant heart and soul of our cities disappearing if international visitors and their vital revenue doesn’t return.”