Almost 90% of UKinbound’s tour operator and DMC members will be forced to make “large scale” redundancies, unless the government offers more financial support to the tourism sector.
The sobering statistic was released as part of a new survey of the tourism trade association’s members – which found 60% of inbound firms will likely make further redundancies in August when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme tapers off.
The study revealed 88% expect to make between 25% and 100% of their staff redundant, while 53% expect their business to last no more than six months.
The number of businesses expected to turn over more than £500,000 from international visitors will fall to 34% in 2020, compared to 71% in 2019 and the number of tourism firms expected to turn over more than £5m from international visitors this year will fall to just 2% from 27% in 2019.
Inbound tourism to the UK contributed £145.9bn to GDP in 2019 (international visitors contributed £28.4 billion) and is responsible for 3.3 million jobs, according to UKinbound.
Chief executive Jos Croft said: “The chancellor’s latest economic recovery plans clearly recognise the value of hospitality and tourism to the UK economy which is very positive, however the measures that have been announced will unfortunately not help the many businesses that are involved in inbound tourism.
“Our survey results unsurprisingly reinforce that those tourism businesses that rely wholly on international visitors for their livelihoods are on their knees and that the risk of widespread redundancies and the collapse of previously successful businesses is a very real threat without further government support.
“Before the pandemic, the UK was the seventh most-visited country in the world but generally there is a low awareness in this country of how much international visitors contribute to our national and regional economies.
“Similarly, there is generally a low awareness among international travellers of what to do in the UK outside London, and it is the tour operators who generate a large proportion of visitation to the UK’s nations and regions.
“Sadly, we look set to see significant redundancies from tour operators and the tourism supply chain next month, which means that many communities and businesses throughout the UK who depend on significant revenue from international visitors will also suffer.
“Our inbound tourism industry is a vital part of the UK economy and we simply cannot recover or level-up our economy without the value that international tourism brings to all regions of the UK.
“We face considerable and exceptional challenges as our sector looks to survive the impacts of Covid-19 and we are calling on the government to do much more to protect the jobs and businesses who will be vital to our long term economic recovery and the government’s ambitions for a truly global Britain.”