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HUDDLESTON

Minister offers update to tourism sector

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s minister for tourism, Nigel Huddleston (pictured), has assured the tourism industry (both leisure and business) that he is working closely with relevant trade bodies to map out a plan for the recovery period when lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

Addressing an audience at the G20 Tourism Ministers' Meeting on Covid-19, minister Huddleston said: “I am in regular discussions with the UK tourism industry about what their priorities are for the recovery period. This includes how businesses can operate while there are still social distancing measures in place; what further guidance is needed; and whether there is a need for tapered support as businesses adjust.”

The tourism minister went on to note the importance of inbound tourism, which according to the most recent figures published by VisitBritain in 2018 reveal that 1.5m visits made to the UK by international travellers were specifically for events. There was a total of 8.4m business events to the UK in 2018, with 62% business trips lasting three days with the average spend per person valued at approximately £770 (£594 for leisure visitors).

Minister Huddleston added: “International visitors are a hugely important part of the UK visitor economy, making nearly 40m visits here annually, and we look forward to welcoming visitors back when it is safe to do so.”

A statement released by the tourism ministers of the G20 went on to express their sympathies for the loss of lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It read: “The travel and tourism sector accounts for 10.3% of the world’s GDP and plays a critical role in society by contributing to dialogue and understanding between peoples and cultures and facilitating cohesion in communities.

“Travel and tourism is one of the most heavily affected sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic, with preliminary estimates from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicating a 45% decline in international tourism in 2020, which could rise to 70% if recovery efforts are delayed until September.

“The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has estimated that up to 75m jobs are at risk in this labour-intensive sector.”

Minister Huddleston, along with his international colleagues, said they would work with their respective finance ministers to ensure the industry was safeguarded. A G20 Action Plan, adopted by finance ministers and central bank governors, will include measures to maintain businesses and support households most impacted by the crisis, safeguard employment, and ensure support for developing and low-income countries.

The DCMS is due to meet events industry trade associations next week.