Tourism-based businesses in Keswick need more government support to avoid going backwards – or even under – because of lockdown restrictions which are keeping visitors away from the North Lakes
That is the view of Keswick Tourism Association (KTA) after a warning was issued that by the end of May the “catastrophic” cost of coronavirus on Cumbria’s tourism industry could hit £1.45 billion – almost half its income for the entire year.
A post-lockdown survey by Cumbria Tourism found that 91 per cent of tourism businesses in the county had received cancellations for May, June and July and into August. The survey also predicted a 49 per cent drop in employment supported by tourism, which equated to a reduction of 18,459 jobs related to the sector.
Vanessa Metcalfe, KTA’s tourism manager, responded to the new survey by saying: “Everyone absolutely understands that the (lockdown) restrictions are necessary but the longer it goes on, the harder it will be for some businesses to pick up where they left off.”
She added: “It is essential that as an industry we continue to lobby government for additional support. We will do whatever we can to ensure as many Keswick businesses as possible make it through these challenging times.”
In 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. Its president Eric Robson said: “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.”
According to Cumbria Tourism’s last full year of data, more than 47 million people visited the county in 2018, generating a £3 billion economy while supporting 65,000 jobs, equivalent to 26 per cent of Cumbria’s working age population.