By Claire West

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is very concerned to learn of the suggestion that the May Day Bank Holiday might be moved to a date in the autumn. The proposals have been outlined in the Tourism Strategy launched by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The HTA has already made representations to DCMS and DBIS Ministers and will continue to work with members of the All Party Parliamentary Horticulture and Gardening Group to ensure that industry concerns are put across.

HTA Director General, David Gwyther, comments, “Because of the seasonality of gardening and existing limitations on Sunday trading, particularly over Easter, the May Day Bank Holiday weekend is one of the busiest and most important trading periods of the year for the garden industry. It would be an enormous blow if the industry was to lose it, and such a significant loss of earnings would undoubtedly effect employment levels.“

He adds, “We will be submitting robust evidence to back this up in response to the consultation and we have tabled our concerns through written questions in Parliament. In terms of boosting the tourism industry, we feel sure that both foreign and domestic tourists would prefer to take advantage of a sunny spring day with the UK in full bloom, rather than a darker and damper alternative in the autumn.”

A survey of HTA garden retail members, carried out earlier this year, showed that 74% are against moving the May Day Bank Holiday to October.