COVID-19 Supporting our Tourism Industry

This page outlines our latest projects and activities as well as the latest advice and information from partners such as VisitBritain and Tourism Alliance.

We would like to hear from you so that we can feedback to VisitBritain and government regarding what is happening in our region. Please email to let us know how COVID-19 is affecting your business.

Where can I find national and international tourism and travel sector information and advice?

The government’s plan for recovery: Our Plan to Rebuild: The Government’s COVID_19 recovery strategy
Parts particularly relevant to tourism can be found on pages 29 (international borders) and 31 (phase 3).

The next chapter of this plan for recovery was published on 24 July 2020. 

VisitBritain has a dedicated news and updates page for all those working in the sector.

VisitEngland’s Business Advice Hub features a dedicated section containing the support available to tourism businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, from funding to guidance on mental health.

I’m looking to reopen my business, what’s the latest advice on that?

On 4 July the government produced guidance on reopening specifically for businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector:

Following the publication of this guidance, UKHospitality published guidelines for hospitality businesses.

From 11 July outdoor theatres, opera, dance and music can resume so long as they take place outside and with a limited and socially distanced audience. See Guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants.

Organisations representing professional tourist guides have issued COVID-19 Guidance for Tour Guiding, to ensure guides can work safely and members of the public can book and go on tours with confidence.

The government has also published guidance for food businesses which includes a section on the management of outbreaks including collecting and providing contact details for health protection teams.

The government has collated guidance for businesses involved in managing beach, coastal and countryside areas.

To help tourism businesses to prepare for reopening, the business support team at VisitEngland has developed a new website to bring together all the guidance and resources available to businesses.


What about the Rule of Six introduced on 14 September?

Generally, businesses that are operating in accordance with current Covid-Secure guidance will be able to continue doing so provided that individual groups of visitors / guests obey the Rule of Six.

The government has updated the following guidance on reopening to take the Rule of Six into consideration:

The seven priority actions from the updated guidance are:

  1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Share it with all your staff. Find out how to do a risk assessment.
  2. Clean more often. Increase how often you clean surfaces, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.
  3. Ask your customers to wear face coverings where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your customers are likely to be around people they do not normally meet. Some exemptions apply. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.
  4. Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one-way system that your customers can follow. Enable people in the same party who do not live together to remain a safe distance apart.
  5. Increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times.
  6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all your customers for 21 days. From 18 September, this will be enforced in law. Some exemptions apply. Check ‘Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace’ for details.
  7. Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If a staff member (or someone in their household) or a customer has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating.

Legal requirements from 18 September:

  • Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in England will now need to take bookings of no more than 6 people, ensure people are not meeting in groups of more than 6 people on their premises, and make sure there is sufficient space between tables
  • It is also mandatory for a wider range of businesses and organisations, including hospitality, close contact services and leisure venues to collect customer, visitor and staff contact detail logs. This is vital for the NHS Test and Trace service in England to contact the necessary people if coronavirus outbreaks are identified in venue.
  • From Thursday 24 September, these businesses also need to display the official NHS QR code posters to make it easier for people to check-in at different premises once the app is rolled out nationally. If individuals choose to check-in using the QR code poster they do not need to log in via any other route

Quick link: Create a coronavirus NHS QR code for your venue


I’ve heard that there is a tourism industry standard to reassure visitors that tourism businesses are reopening with COVID-19 measures in place. Could you tell me about that?

The ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and supporting mark means businesses across the sector can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and check they have the required processes in place. The scheme is free to join and open to all businesses across the sector.

To obtain the mark businesses must complete a self-assessment through the online platform including a check-list confirming they have put the necessary processes in place, before receiving certification and the ‘We’re Good To Go’ mark for display in their premises and online.

Once the mark is obtained for your business, please complete our online survey to let us know about this and any information people should know before visiting your venue. We’ll then update your listing/s on and mark your business with We’re Good To Go.


How do I apply for the temporary reduced rate of VAT?

Guidance is now available, following the government’s announcement that VAT registered businesses may apply a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT to certain supplies relating to hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation and admission to certain attractions. The temporary reduced rate may be applied between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021.

Eligible attractions for the temporary reduced rate of VAT include shows, theatres, circuses, fairs, amusement parks, concerts, museums, zoos, cinemas, exhibitions and other cultural events and facilities, but do not include admission to sporting events. Live performances that charge a fee to view online may be eligible, depending on circumstances and assuming they are not already covered by a Cultural VAT exemption. Find more information about which attractions are eligible for the reduced rate of VAT.


What do I need to do to support NHS Track and Trace?

The following businesses providing an on-site service are required to collect and maintain data of staff, customers and visitors upon re-opening:

  • Hospitality, including pubs, bars and restaurants (it does not apply to businesses operating a takeaway/delivery only basis).
  • Tourism and leisure, including hotels, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks.
  • Facilities provided by local authorities including town halls and civic centres for events, community centres, libraries and children’s centres.
  • Places of worship including use for events and other community activities.

It was announced on 10 September that this requirement would become a law with further guidance to be announced soon.

Guidance on collection and maintenance of data from Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

The ICO has also published a statement and a short data protection checklist for protecting customer data:

  • Ask for only what’s needed.
  • Be transparent with customers and what the information is being used for.
  • Store the data carefully.
  • Don’t use it for other purposes.
  • Erase the data in line with the government guidelines.


What’s the advice on identifying and responding to a local coronavirus outbreak?

Public Health England have launched a campaign that provides advice to businesses on how to identify and respond to a local coronavirus outbreak. The campaign seeks to help business operators:

  • Identify an outbreak of COVID-19 (one or more confirmed case depending on the business or organisation).
  • Report the outbreak to local health protection team.
  • Work with local health protection team to respond.

As part of the campaign, PHE have produced a series of different action cards for different business types.


Most of my the staff in my organisation are furloughed, how can I help them use this time to learn skills that will benefit my business when we reopen?

NGI has been coordinating a project with Gateshead College and Newcastle College, who have pulled together a set of tourism online training resources which anyone can access, completely free. There is a wide variety of courses on offer, from infection control and mental health awareness to digital marketing and IT.


How can I access the latest thinking around the current challenges faced by the tourism industry in the North East?

VisitBritain have commissioned a weekly tracking survey to understand domestic intent to take short breaks and holidays both within the U.K. and abroad, with particular focus around the current barriers and concerns around travel and how these will evolve over time. Latest reports from the survey are published on VisitBritain’s website.

The tourism industry has been one of the worst affected by current challenges and is now looking at what a ‘new normal’ might look like. Our ‘Adapting and Innovating in 2020’ webinars series continues to explore and discuss the challenges and potential opportunities for the industry. Sign up to receive email alerts as new webinars in the series are announced.

VisitEngland’s business recovery webinars will give you practical insights, tips and guidance to set you on the road to recovery.


How can I promote our virtual / alternative offer to potential visitors when they’re unable to come to North East England or while my venue is closed?

At NGI, we are working hard to keep all of our information up to date on our leisure tourism website, and we are grateful to you all for notifying us of changes, cancellations and new ways of operating when reopening.

However, we are also very keen to hear about any new, alternative or remote activities that your organisation might be offering. Please email our Digital Content Manager, Hannah Lambert with any information and we will do our best to promote it as part of our day-to-day communications activity.


Where can I find out about consumer sentiment and concerns regarding reopening?

The ALVA attractions recovery tracker and BVA-BDRC weekly research briefings are both useful resources for consumer sentiment and potential barriers to visiting once the tourism industry reopens.

ALVA attractions recover tracker wave 1
ALVA attractions recovery tracker wave 2
BVA-BDRC weekly briefings are available from their website.


What’s the latest advice for accommodation providers?

The government has a dedicated page for all providers of hotel and other accommodation types. 


Is there any guidance for charities?

Charity-specific information is available on the government website.

Guidance and templates:


Check out our COVID-19 Business Resources page for the most useful COVID-19 resources we’ve seen (webinars, blogs, guides etc), alongside our own content which is designed to help our partner organisations and other businesses across North East England.


Supporting businesses:

Check out our COVID-19 Supporting Businesses page for a summary of initiatives being established to help support businesses and employers who are affected by COVID-19.