North East tourism industry makes clear statement of desire to continue trading

New research has shown that nearly 70 per cent of North East businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector would currently prefer to stay in Tier 2 on the Government’s local Covid alert levels. Only five per cent believed their business would be better off in Tier 3, with 27 per cent unsure.

51 per cent of these businesses would also support a full national lockdown to act as a circuit breaker with 37 per cent stating that they would not support these measures.

The statistics were obtained on a virtual tourism conference with over 100 representatives from the North East tourism and hospitality sector. The conference, run by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), saw national tourism body VisitEngland, NGI and Newcastle City Council set out the current national and local impact on the tourism and hospitality industry.

Using historical data NGI forecasts that the North East tourism economy could lose as much as £2.8 billion by the end of 2020, with the loss of over 35,000 jobs.

Local businesses, including Blackfriars Restaurant, Staybridge Suites and Iles Tours, shared their experiences of operating in the current climate and how they have adapted to keep trading. 1,700 businesses in the region have signed up to the Government’s ‘We’re Good to Go’ accreditation and have already made significant changes to their business model to allow them to trade safely.

Sarah Green, Chief Executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Our research demonstrates that the tourism industry wants the opportunity to keep trading safely throughout this winter. We have heard from some businesses who have spent tens of thousands of pounds adapting their operations and ensuring they can trade safely. They deserve the opportunity to stay open and keep people in employment.

“Tourism businesses have stated that they would support a full national two-week lockdown, if, as the scientists suggest, this will act as a circuit breaker and allow businesses to plan thanks to a clear exit strategy and resume trading safely immediately after. Their key concern about Tier 3 status is the cost of closure without any certainty of knowing when and if they can re-open.

“We need central and local government, and the private sector to work together to ensure that the region is not escalated to Tier 3. The continuous cycle of loosening and tightening restrictions needs to stop – we’re asking for a clear localised roadmap which allows businesses to plan into the future and make it through winter.”