Please give your full support to tourism businesses
Letter from Club Director General to Members of Parliament
The Caravan and Motorhome Club operates the largest network of campsites in the UK, with over 200 Club operated locations and a further 2300 smaller Certificated Locations operated by farmers, small rural businesses and visitor attractions. These provide almost 30,000 pitches throughout the UK. Visitors to these sites spend some £700,000,000 pa in rural communities.
All these businesses greatly appreciate the Government’s support both for them and their staff. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a hugely important initiative and we are all working to ensure that these businesses won’t fail during this most challenging period. However, the nature of the UK tourism industry, which generates £145bn for the UK economy and employs 3.2m people, is such that they need your help to resolve the following issues.
1. Seasonal workers who started on/after 1 March may be ineligible to furlough
Tourism is, to a large extent, a seasonal activity with an inevitable peak in the summer months. As such, seasonal workers constitute a significant component of the sector. Indeed, research by ONS estimates that there are around 380,000 seasonal workers within the tourism industry.
A large number of these workers are employed year round but actively work over the main summer season which is between Easter and October. Under the current Job Retention Scheme rules, it seems some of those who were recruited and have a contract of employment to start work on or after 1 March may be ineligible for furloughing even though they may be returning to work for the same business over the summer season for many years and rely on this work for their yearly income.
We suggest that the government makes it clear that these seasonal workers may be furloughed, particularly where there is auditable evidence of their employment prior to 28 February 2020.
2. Essential security and maintenance
Many businesses in our sector have had to furlough their staff because there is no income being generated to pay them. However, because furloughed staff cannot undertake any work:
- these businesses will not be able to undertake the maintenance required to ensure that they are ready to welcome customers back as soon as the lock-down ends
- the staff will not be able to help keep the vacant premises secure, preventing thefts and damage so that the business doesn’t suffer further loss and, again, is ready to open as soon as the lock-down ends.
We ask for some sort of scheme, or flexibility to allow at least for minimum essential grounds maintenance and security in our land-based park businesses please.
3. Winter is coming
Although it is unknown at this stage exactly when businesses will be able to reopen to the public, it looks likely that this will not be until much of the 2020 tourism season has ended. If this is the case, not only will these businesses have lost the majority of their 2020 income, they will then have to survive the winter until the 2021 tourism season begins.
We fear that, if support is withdrawn, these businesses will run out of cash over the winter period and go under even if the virus threat is behind us.
We ask please that you provide the ongoing support seasonal tourism businesses will need, even if the country returns to a ‘new normal’ sometime this summer.
While we are pleading for the survival of businesses in this important component of the UK tourism industry, this is also a plea to support the local economies which depend on revenue generated by tourism businesses.