Domestic Tourism

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:01 am on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay 11:01 am, 12th January 2021

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. No one could ever doubt his enthusiasm for representing his constituency in many ways. He makes some great points about the reliance of his part of the world on tourism; Cornwall has that same reliance. One of the key things about our tourism industry is that it supports many of the poorest and most deprived parts of our country. Many of our coastal areas, which struggle economically in many ways, rely heavily on tourism. I will come back to that later in the debate.

I place on the record my thanks to the Minister. I am delighted that he is here to respond, because he has been incredibly accessible and responsive over the last year in his role as Minister with responsibility for tourism. He came to Cornwall in the summer; it was great to see him. Businesses there were very grateful, and spoke about how highly he is regarded in the sector for the way that he has engaged with and been accessible to businesses up and down the country.

The Government have provided unprecedented support to businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors through grants, the furlough scheme, the VAT cut, which was hugely welcome for the sector, the eat out to help out scheme and Government-backed loans. Those schemes have all been absolutely essential in helping businesses to get through the pandemic, and have been warmly welcomed by businesses. We should acknowledge the recent announcement of a further round of Treasury grants. That is absolutely crucial to ensure that businesses get through the current lockdown.

The Minister will be aware that many businesses still face huge challenges despite all the support that the Government have provided. They face what is now commonly called the “three-winter scenario”: businesses that rely on seasonal tourism did not make as much money as usual in last year’s summer season, and now face another very difficult winter. It is absolutely essential that the Government do everything that they can to ensure that all viable businesses survive this period. After we have put so much support into those businesses, it would be a tragedy to see them fail, just as we are hoping that our country can return to some sort of normality and that the tourism sector can reopen.

It is absolutely essential that we do all that we can to ensure that businesses get through this period. I know that many of these things are not the Minister’s responsibility, but I urge him to work with the Treasury to look at what further support we can provide.