As the summer holidays begin, NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) is encouraging local businesses to work together to help the North East’s £5bn tourism industry.
The tourism industry has received a welcome boost in recent weeks with the Government announcing a temporary VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sector, a new ‘eat out to help out’ voucher scheme, a support package for the cultural sector and the proposed restarting of the events industry in October.
As we head into the busy summer holiday period, NGI is urging businesses to take advantage of the new measures and work with the organisation to show visitors that the region is ready to welcome them back.
NGI is working with local partners and the tourism sector to support the recovery of the industry. A new online tourism hub has been created to signpost tourism businesses to relevant support schemes and provide resources to help develop and promote the sector, such as the ‘eat out to help out’ voucher scheme and VisitBritain’s ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard.
Plans moving forward include utilising tourism digital marketplace TXGB to enhance and promote online bookable experiences and partnering with the new ‘Locale’ app to help venues share offers and real-time information on how busy they are to visitors as they move around the city centre.
Tourism is the fourth largest sector in the North East, supporting 66,000 jobs. When businesses started to open their doors at the beginning of July, the industry had already seen direct losses of more than £1.4bn, with a further £448m lost to the regional economy from the supply chain and spending from those employed in the sector.*
The organisation is also working alongside Newcastle City Council and the Business & IP Centre (BIPC) Newcastle, to help businesses adapt and recover from Covid-19 and safeguard jobs. The recently launched Citylife Business Support scheme was developed by identifying gaps in Government and local support, and will provide support through workshops, events and up to eight hours of free one-to-one expert advice.
Sarah Green, Chief Executive of NGI, said: “We’re now at a crucial stage where businesses are reopening and visitors are getting used to a new way of operating. The recently announced measures were great news and we are encouraging all tourism and hospitality businesses from around the region to work with us and support the recovery of our amazing tourism industry.
“We’re running a series of webinars to help businesses adapt and innovate to current challenges and have created an online tourism hub for the latest guidance and advice. We would love to hear from tourism businesses in the region, no matter how small, about what they are doing and how we can support them. Working together we can all help support the North East’s £5bn tourism industry and the 66,000 people it employs.”
Andy Hook, Owner of Blackfriars Restaurant, Dobson & Parnell and Hinnies Restaurant, added: “The hospitality sector is currently going through one of the most challenging periods it’s ever had to face. The three-month lockdown produced huge financial losses and great uncertainty for the industry. Whilst we have been grateful for government grants, business rates holidays and the Job Retention Scheme, as well as recent reductions in VAT and the Eat Out to help Out initiative, most of us remain saddled with large rent debts and other costs we’ve had to bare throughout. And it’s likely to get worse before we begin to recover.
“It is for this reason we’ve been incredibly grateful for the support, help, advice and encouragement from NGI throughout lockdown and beyond. They have engaged with us proactively on all levels, have provided timely information to help our decision-making and have facilitated a joined-up approach from all our key partners including NE1 and Newcastle City Council. The business community seems more determined than ever to ensure we not only survive but also prosper and we have NGI to thank for helping bring us all together.”
For more information on the support available for tourism businesses visit www.ngi.org.uk/tourism/