My Lords, we urgently need to repair the tourist economy, not least because no region or nation of the UK has less than 100,000 tourism-related employees. The combined £34 billion spent every year in poorer, rural and seaside areas is a significant transfer of wealth from better-off, urban areas. The £20 billion that tourism contributes to rural economies is only slightly less than the £24 billion contribution from agriculture.
I want to highlight two issues. First, we can already meet outdoors with up to six people from different households, and non-essential shops and amusement arcades will soon open, increasing the level of contact. Yet the Government are not reopening caravan parks, where families who have been in the same bubbles throughout the pandemic can holiday safely. Caravans themselves have to be, by law, six metres apart, so they are well prepared for people to holiday while keeping away from other families. Why not allow caravan parks to open?
Secondly, self-catering holiday businesses are really suffering. Most are micro-businesses, but those that operate as limited companies have found that the family is not eligible for self-employed support, while those that are sole traders have been told by HMRC that their revenue is the product not of work, but of property investment. Yet HMRC’s own rules for furnished holiday lettings say that self-catering properties made available for at least 210 days a year and let for 105 days are classified as trading businesses. There is a complete mix-up here and the Government really must resolve this problem as soon as possible. I hope the Minister will address both issues when he responds.