Bosses from across the UK’s hospitality and tourism industries are ramping up pressure on the government to provide “urgent” support to prevent “widespread devastation”.
In a letter to the prime minister, 120 of the industries’ leaders warned that at least half of firms would not break even in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. They are calling for deferred tax bills, grants to cover rent debts and a reduction on VAT.
Although various aspects of lockdown are being eased, many elements of hospitality and tourism remain closed with no date for reopening in sight.
The letter reads: “Hospitality businesses operate with very high fixed costs and labour costs are the only flexible point to absorb this suppressed demand.
“Many parts of the late night and leisure economy, as well as activities such as events and conferencing in our hotels, have no provisional date for reopening and this is impacting confidence and undermining job security.”
Hospitality and tourism are among the worst affected industries by the outbreak of coronavirus. And with social distancing measures likely to in place for some time, many believe it will struggle to shake off the effects long after venues and businesses are allowed to re-open.
It comes the government announced a £1.57 billion fund to support the UK’s arts and cultural industries, follows a week of intense pressure. Labour is calling on the government to create a £1.7bn “fightback fund” for the hospitality industry and High Street.
The letter added: “Sales across the sector are expected to be 56% lower than last year, reducing revenues by £73.4bn and half of businesses do not expect to reach break even until the end of next year.”
“In the decade that followed the financial crisis hospitality consistently created around one in six new jobs thanks in part to the VAT cuts and investment in youth employment and training introduced in the immediate aftermath.
“We can do so again. Physical hospitality cannot be replicated digitally online, in the same way that some form of retail can be. We therefore urge you and your colleagues across government to work with us to stimulate demand and support the sector’s recovery.”