A new survey by Cumbria Tourism has found that by the end of next month, the Coronavirus pandemic will have cost the county’s tourism industry £1.45bn in revenue – almost half of tourism-related income for the county for the year.
Laying-bare the devastating effects of Covid-19 on hundreds of tourism businesses in all six of the county’s districts, the survey, sponsored Cumbria Tourism’s Strategic Partners, locally-based chartered accountants and consultancy service Lamont Pridmore, has found that 91% have received cancellations for May, June and July and into August.
The figures also predict an economic impact fall of 48% and a 49% drop in employment supported by tourism: A reduction of 18,459 jobs related to the sector.
According to Cumbria Tourism’s last full year of data, the county’s visitor economy contributed £3bn to the county annually, while supporting 65,000 jobs, equivalent to 26% of Cumbria’s working age population.
Cumbria Tourism’s President, Eric Robson, says, “The impact has been catastrophic for our tourism industry. Just coming out of winter, this crisis has come at the worst possible time when businesses were gearing-up to make money during the traditionally busier spring and summer seasons. That money is what would see them survive the quieter autumn and winter months.
“Even if some businesses can survive in the short term, grants and loans are just covering essential costs, they are not replacing profits. Some businesses will survive for long enough to re-open – but will they manage to get through the following nine or ten months into the 2021 visitor season?
“While nobody expects there to be an immediate bounce-back in terms of visitor numbers when lockdown finally ends, there is likely to be a phased approach to removing lockdown. This, combined with the changes in many households’ financial circumstances and changed visitor behaviour, is likely to compound the problem.”
Cllr David Southward MBE, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Property from Cumbria County Council, says, “It is vital that we work together to safeguard this industry so that it can provide growth and jobs for the county’s economy during the recovery. Never has there been a time when it has been more evident just how much the visitor economy underpins the wider economy. We are committed to working with the tourism industry and Cumbria Tourism to navigate our way through this constantly evolving situation, while working hard to support small businesses which all play a big role in the recovery efforts.”
Cumbria Tourism feeds updates to the government on a daily basis and is relying on the voices of businesses which are feeling the effects of the virus to strengthen the case for further government funding.
In just the last month, Cumbria Tourism has taken more than 1,500 enquiries from businesses seeking advice and information on how to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.