Plymouth City Council is calling on the Government to introduce further measures to help the city’s tourism, hospitality and retail sector bounce back from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in 2021.
Between March and September this year, it has been estimated that Plymouth will have lost almost £150 million of its annual visitor spend - over half of usual income. These numbers are expected to increase following the recent November lockdown and the ongoing ‘Tier 2’ restrictions.
Before lockdown, the growth of tourism and the visitor economy had been a big success story for the city with over 25 per cent growth in the last eight years. There were around 5.4 million visitors in 2018 spending over £337 million annually and supporting nearly 8,000 jobs, over seven per cent of the city’s employment.
The Council in partnership with Destination Plymouth, which promotes tourism in the city, is now calling for further significant measures to help the sector recover including:
Maintaining the five per cent VAT reduction rate to December 2021 and continued business rates relief to March 2022
Expanding the types of businesses to be included in the mandatory grant support scheme to include coach and boat operators, language schools, inbound tour operators and others such as fishing and farming producers.
Support to be offered to businesses who have suffered direct cancellations as a result of last-minute lockdown restrictions.
Extension of the Zoo/Aquaria Support grants beyond March 31 2021 for six months.
An amendment to Gift Aid percentage from 25 per cent to 33 per cent to support charities.
Consideration of repayable ‘cash flow’ funding to support businesses this winter and spring for example asking banks to extend CIBIL re-payment terms from six to 10 years.
Cllr Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of Plymouth City Council said:
“We have seen great growth in the hospitality and tourist sectors in Plymouth over the last decade. We need government help to ensure that the businesses are still in place so we can continue to grow once the pandemic is over. But our immediate priority is survival.”
Amanda Lumley, Executive Director, Destination Plymouth said:
“We’re proud to be Britain’s Ocean City and tourism makes an important contribution to our economy and community. There’s no doubt that the furlough scheme, grants, business rates relief and VAT reduction have played an important role in supporting our tourism businesses to date, but given the severity of the pandemic more needs to be done.
“As would be expected, Plymouth’s visitors have fallen dramatically and we’re calling for some extra support from the Government to support jobs and ensure tourism bounces back strong next year.”
A survey undertaken just before October half term across Destination Plymouth members and the levy payers of the two BID areas showed:
Approximately 28 per cent of respondents had staff on furlough.
45 per cent of these businesses said they would probably make these staff redundant at the end of the furlough period.
Nearly 50 per cent of businesses who responded were less than 30 per cent full for October half term.
76 per cent said they were less than 30 per cent full in November and December.
60 per cent of those surveyed felt that business would not return to anywhere near normal until after July 2021.
Destination Plymouth has been working closely with Plymouth City Council and key city stakeholders over the past few months to support businesses through allocation of business grants funding, high level lobbying at national and regional level for further support and development and implementation of a Plymouth and regional recovery plan. This includes successfully bidding into grant funding for additional marketing funds including the Enjoy Summer Safely campaign and Discover England Fund.