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 am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention. I was about to make that point: despite all the support that the Government have provided, parts of the sector, such as self-catering, events and weddings, have fallen through the gaps, and it is important that we look at what we can do for them.

The wedding industry is absolutely crucial to many hotels and other attractions in the tourism sector, because it provides good income outside the peak season—they have lost all that income in the last year. We also need to bear in mind that a wedding cannot normally be planned in just a few days. Once we are able to reopen the sector, it will still be weeks and months before those businesses’ incomes are built back up, as people are not booking weddings at the moment because of the uncertainty; they will be booking them in many months’ time. Businesses will not open their doors and suddenly see the revenue flow back in overnight. It is important that we look at what we can do for some of those sectors.

I also place on the record the impact that some of the very sudden changes have had on the sector. In Cornwall, we went from tier 2 to tier 3 on 30 December. Although I absolutely understand and support the need to take that decision to protect public health, it had a huge impact for many hotels—which were expecting to be booked up for new year’s eve and had stocked their fridges and bars for that—to suddenly find, with just a few hours’ notice, that they would have to shut. The impact was not just in terms of the lost revenue, but the wasted stock they had already purchased and were then unable to sell on. I am not sure that the impact of those sudden changes has always been reflected in the support that the Government have made available.

If grants are provided to retailers which perhaps sell clothes, then in six or eight weeks’ time, when they may be able to reopen, those clothes will still be there to sell. Restaurants or hotels that have stocked their fridges and must then dispose of all that stock are in a very different position from that of a retail outlet, but the grants that are given are pretty much the same; that difference has not always been reflected.