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New restrictions add further challenges for tourism industry

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism

Latest government restrictions announced by the Prime Minister this afternoon will bring additional challenges for the tourism sector, according to the county’s official Destination Management Organisation, Cumbria Tourism.

Following almost four months of closures and a collective loss of £1.5billion in revenue from Cumbria’s tourism and hospitality industry, visitor spending is still significantly down and business have only just started to get moving again in recent weeks – on average at just 75% capacity of what they would normally be.

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s statement, the Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says: “The priority, of course, is keeping everyone safe. But with Boris Johnson warning that the latest restrictions could last another six months – alongside the imminent end of the furlough scheme – there are real concerns about the long-term negative impact for businesses as they head into the traditionally quieter winter months. We continue to urge the Government to listen to our calls for financial intervention to support the industry.

“Tourism businesses have already worked incredibly hard over the last couple of months to adapt, innovate and ensure they can provide COVID-safe environments, by taking a wide range of precautions to not only protect staff and customers, but also to provide a strong visitor experience. We know they will continue adapting and some of the new rules, for instance on face coverings, may actually provide additional reassurance for visitors.

“That said, we had previously been moving towards more relaxed measures for events, conferences and weddings, so it is disappointing that tighter restrictions are being enforced on the size of weddings.  Many venues have put a huge amount of time and effort into making weddings viable, so this will be a big blow for them.

“Even before these new restrictions were announced, our latest business tracker research showed that average spend is significantly down and business confidence is plummeting.

It is now clear that the tourism industry will continue to be impacted for many months to come and our renewed calls for financial support to help jobs, businesses and customers through the challenging winter period are more critical than ever.”

Following a question from Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron during this afternoon’s session in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister has agreed to arrange a meeting between Mr Farron, the relevant Minister and Cumbria Tourism to discuss a proposed package of support for the industry.

To help strengthen the case being highlighted at Westminster, businesses and customers alike are again being urged to sign the MP’s joint petition with Cumbria Tourism here, calling for urgent intervention to support the tourism industry.

The range of new measures outlined today by the Prime Minister includes:

  • From this Thursday 24 September, all pubs, bars and restaurants will be restricted to table service only (excluding takeaway deliveries).
  • Hospitality venues must close at 10pm.
  • All staff and customers in retail and indoor hospitality venues will have to wear masks, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
  • The maximum limit on wedding guests will be reduced from 30 to 15 from next Monday 28 September.
  • Plans to trial a public return to conference venues and sporting events have been paused.

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