Coronavirus: Half of tourism businesses 'not at full capacity'

Glamping tentsImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Self-contained tourist accommodation was allowed to reopen on 13 July

More than three-quarters of tourism businesses have reopened after lockdown but half are still not operating at full capacity, according to research.

The Welsh Government survey of 801 tourism operators found the average business in the sector in Wales has lost almost half of its annual income.

Almost all restaurants and campsites have reopened, but only 53% of tourism attractions are currently operating.

Two-thirds of businesses still have staff on furlough.

Of the 22% of businesses which had not yet reopened when the survey was conducted in the first week of August, almost half said the reason was due to existing coronavirus restrictions, while a third said they had temporarily closed their business.

Of those which have opened, 13% said they have had more bookings than usual for August.

Just 1% of staff have been made redundant so far in the sector, but two-thirds of businesses have staff on the furlough scheme, which is due to end in October.

How important is tourism?

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Enjoying the beach in the sunshine at Barry Island on Sunday

Tourism in Wales directly supports about 120,000 jobs - almost 10% of Wales' workforce - and contributes 6% of all Gross Value Added to the Welsh economy.

Across Wales, the sector is estimated to be worth more than £3bn - and £585m to the Pembrokeshire economy alone.

The industry had been on course to increase its overnight spend by visitors in Wales this year by 10% compared with eight years ago.

The Federation of Small Businesses Wales said it had already called on the Welsh Government to start a tourism hibernation scheme, a mix of loans and grants to tourism firms at preferential rates which would be repayable once firms were back in the profitable part of the 2021 season.

Policy chairman Ben Francis said: "With the average tourism business having lost half of its annual income, it is clear that the concerns of these seasonal businesses facing three consecutive winters is beginning to be borne out in many places.

"Unless significant measures are now taken to support this industry, then it is clear that there could be difficult decisions ahead for many small firms."

With quarantines introduced for holiday makers who return to the UK from a host of popular resorts abroad, it's not surprising that more people have been staying in the UK and tourism businesses in Wales are very busy.

As we can see from this survey some are more busy than usual but it does follow four months of being shut because of lockdown.

More alarmingly, when asked how much income they have lost because of the pandemic, the average loss was equivalent to nearly half their usual annual income.

Accommodation and food businesses have had the highest proportion of workers furloughed - the Job Retention Scheme introduced by the UK government to encourage employers to hold on to staff.

Three-quarters of the 801 businesses surveyed for this report have furloughed staff and only a handful of employees have been made redundant.

The scheme is planned to finish at the end of October although Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to extend it.

It's too early to tell how many of those furloughed employees in tourism will have a job to go back to when the scheme finally ends.

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