Travel and tourism businesses in the UK risk losing "tens of billions" of pounds in future income if they are not given every possible opportunity to survive the coronavirus crisis.
Trade associations representing thousands of tourist businesses have joined forces with the Local Government Association (LGA) to write to chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to broaden the range of businesses the government’s coronavirus business rates relief scheme is available to.
Tour and coach operators, English language schools, destination management organisations (DMOs), and tourism and hospitality charities, are currently excluded from the scheme, which means no qualifying business will have to pay business rates for the next 12 months, while those with a rateable value of less than £51,000 would also qualify for a cash grant.
This is despite Sunak stating it would be available to all businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors when it was announced on 17 March.
However, guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government states many of these businesses do not qualify for support because they are not in premises customers enter to make a purchase.
“This distinction is both arbitrary and counter to the chancellor’s repeated statements that all businesses in the leisure sector are eligible for support,” says the letter, which has been signed by the Tourism Alliance, the Confederation of Passenger Transport, Etoa, UKinbound, the Coach Tourism Association and English UK.
“Failing to support these businesses puts at risk many thousands of businesses that generate a large percentage of the £25 billion per annum the UK earns from inbound tourism,” the letter adds.