Tourism and the pandemic: what is the true cost to the sector?

A new survey on the Tourism, Leisure and hospitality sector has been launched this week by leading players in the sector to gather detailed financial details from across the sector to establish the true cost to the sector of this pandemic.

“All the businesses in this sector are facing huge challenges that nobody would ever have imagined they would experience” said Chris Scargill, Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality specialist partner at MHA Larking Gowen, the business advisors.  “While some parts of the sector are in the early stages of re-opening, the vast majority are hoping the potential date of 4 July is a reality and regulations eased then, but it is accepted that some parts of the  sector are likely to be last to be released from lockdown.  Even when they open, they will have to operate in a completely new way, with greatly reduced capacity and revenue, whilst working with expensive and challenging guidelines.

There are some big challenges ahead and in light of this we have been working with some key tourism and leisure business leaders across the sector to create a survey researching the likely outcomes over the next nine months”.

One of the key players party to the creation of the survey and the importance of this research is Ian Russell MBE of Wroxham Barns and Chairman Where to Go in North Norfolk. He said “There are many organisations working on behalf of the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector, lobbying Government on the local industry’s behalf. MPs in Norfolk and Suffolk have been supportive of the sector and they too are doing all they can to represent businesses and fully understand the jobs the sector has created.   

“The Government’s support via the Job Retention Scheme, CBILS, Bounce Back and business support grants have all helped support most businesses through this period of closure, but these programmes may not be sufficient to take businesses safely through until more positive times return.

I feel this type of research is really important, and we need the businesses in the sector to get behind the survey.  In asking for sector support from Government, businesses understand that they have to evidence the complex set of pressures which could cause that “perfect storm” next winter”.

The surveys launch has been facilitated by the group issuing a letter to other key business owners, highlighting the need for the collection of business data. In addition to Ian Russell and Chris Scargill, the signatories to the survey include Dr Andy Wood of Adnams who is also Chair of Visit East of England and a member of VisitEngland Advisory Board, Andrew Hird, Chair of Visit North Norfolk, Martin Dupee a Director of both, Norfolk & Suffolk Attractions and Visit East of England, Peter Williamson, Chair of Norfolk & Suffolk Tourist Attractions and Greg Munford, Chief Executive Director, Richardson's Boating Holidays and Holiday Parks and also Chair of British Marine.

Andrew Hird said “A key priority for businesses is keeping their teams and customers safe. Early research is indicating that guests are very unsure about visiting hospitality venues until they are sure that they can be kept safe. Notwithstanding all endeavours to reassure and comply with government guidelines, it is not clear when customer confidence will return, and that will have an impact on business performance.”

Martin Dupee said “we know our local attractions are working hard to open and operate safely.  We know that on opening the local, loyal customers will visit first, and looking after them is essential. In doing so, however, businesses face further financial hardship due to investment and management of those provisions – creating than normal costs at a time of lower capacity and income.

Peter Williamson, chair of Norfolk and Suffolk Tourist attractions added “There has been a lot of general commentary on the sensitivity of the situation, but there is now a clamour for real facts, which this survey intends to provide. There is widespread concern that the “three winters” scenario will put a significant number of businesses and jobs at risk.”

Chris Scargill added “The survey does require some time to pull the numbers together, but it is the key numbers that will give us the evidence we need”. 

The survey, which can be paused, saved and returned to is available online only.  If you would like to support the survey, please contact

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