Tourism boss welcomes clear dates for opening up business - but fires warning over financial support

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement, outlining the plans for England’s roadmap out of lockdown, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive James Mason said: “There is much to consider especially after a particularly turbulent year for tourism.”

Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 9:32 am
Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire James Mason

He has also said: “Many businesses, particularly in hospitality may not find a way through the latest restrictions, if they cannot open before summer and further financial support is not forthcoming.”

While Welcome to Yorkshire acknowledges that there are merits in the latest announcements, including the specific dates set forward allowing businesses to reopen and a no tier system allowing for continued consistency of rules across the country, the destination management organisation will lobby on behalf of the tourism sector, for a clear and much-needed plan from the Government to offer and outline crucial economic support for businesses.

“The wait of financial uncertainty from February 15 until a March 3 budget announcement is too long for any business to make plans, support staffing decisions or simply to assess their future viability,” said Mr Mason.

Pre-pandemic tourism in Yorkshire was worth £9 billion annually to the county’s economy with the region’s tourism and hospitality industry employing almost 225,000 people

Welcome to Yorkshire will also continue to work closely with the county’s amazing attractions, brilliant businesses and local authorities to enable the tourism sector to reopen, recover and rebuild as safely and as successfully as possible.

The promotion of the ‘outdoor economy’ is the first stage in ‘reopening’, with group meetings outside possible in the near future and hospitality venues able to serve food and drink outdoors.

While this is a positive step, many hospitality businesses have limited or no outdoor space.

“Serving outdoors ‘only’ will not be practical for all establishments but those that can have this option may well take the opportunity to exercise it, and if financially viable all things considered, they should," he said.

"The ‘outdoor economy’ will only grow as people feel as safe as they did before. In time we’ll see, but these are the first steps as a route back to normality before society is fully reopened.”