To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking in each region of (a) England and (b) Wales to help protect employment in the inland waterways sector of the tourism industry from the effect of the covid-19 outbreak.
We recognise that waterways businesses have been severely impacted by the current situation. My Department will continue to work closely with the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to assess the impact on tourism businesses on inland waterways following Covid-19.
The Government has provided wide-ranging financial support across the whole economy, particularly focussing on small and medium-sized businesses. These include several loan schemes, such as the 100% Government-guaranteed Bounce Back Loan; support for self-employed people; the Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund to accommodate small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme; a £10 million tourism ‘kick-start’ package to help small businesses in our tourist destinations, along with a reduced 5% VAT rate for many tourism and hospitality activities for six months.
Through the Cultural Renewal Taskforce and its working groups, we have developed Covid-19 Secure guidance which will help heritage and tourism businesses reopen safely for both visitors and workers. Further significant easing of Covid-19 restrictions from 4 July should now allow many waterways businesses to reopen to take advantage of coming summer demand.