The UK government is being urged to create a Tourism Export Recovery Fund to help inbound tourism businesses survive into 2022.
Trade association UKinbound said the fund should be used to support firms that are “wholly reliant” on international visitors until the likely return of this market from spring 2022.
Inbound specialists, including tour operators and destination management companies (DMCs), have seen revenue plunged by at least 90% due to the Covid-19 crisis.
UKinbound said the fund would allow operators and DMCs to apply for a grant based on their 2019 revenue, which would pump around £47 million into the sector and allow these businesses to survive until the international market starts to recover.
The body also called for the furlough scheme to be extended for the sector until April 2022. Currently around 77% of staff are still on furlough and UKinbound warned that ending furlough payments from 1 October, as planned, would have “devastating consequences for the sector”.
Joss Croft, UKinbound’s chief executive, said: “The UK economy is losing £78 million a day in exports due to a total collapse in international visitors, and failure to support this industry will have a detrimental impact on our national economic recovery.
“Our borders have effectively been closed since March 2020, with previously profitable and sustainable businesses seeing their revenue drop by over 90% since 2019. These businesses have also been forgotten by the Treasury and left out of existing government support schemes."
Croft added that 2022 “presents a fantastic opportunity for the UK to showcase its world-class welcome”.
“But the country will not be able to fully reap the benefits without a successful inbound tourism sector in place to convert pent-up demand and interest into bookings and funnel business and revenue to all corners of the country and through multiple sectors,” he warned.