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MPs call for new autumn bank holiday and VAT cut to help tourism firms

The All-Part Parliament Group (APPG) for Hospitality and Tourism has issued a new report calling for a raft of measures to support the sectors.

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Amusements and children’s rides are closed in Barry Island, Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

Amusements and children’s rides are closed in Barry Island, Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

Amusements and children’s rides are closed in Barry Island, Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

MPs and business leaders have called on the Government to cut tourism VAT, overhaul business rates and create a new autumn bank holiday to support UK hospitality and tourism firms hammered by coronavirus.

A new report by the All-Party Parliament Group (APPG) for Hospitality and Tourism has called for the measures as part of proposals to secure the long-term future of businesses in the sector.

It said that only 11% of hospitality businesses have been able to trade normally through the crisis, as restaurants, bars and hotels were forced to shut their doors.

Meanwhile, the report said international tourist arrivals are expected to be down 59% for the year amid concerns over current plans to quarantine arrivals into the country for two weeks.

The APPG and trade group UKHospitality also reiterated calls for the Government to consider reducing current two-metre distancing guidance.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, warned that “the road back will be a long and hard one” for firms in the sectors if the Government fails to address its concerns.

On Thursday, Treasury figures revealed that the crisis wrought havoc on the hospitality sector, with accommodation and food services companies furloughing 1.4 million people, and claiming £2.6 billion in furlough cash.

The new report – which is based on testimony and written evidence from over 350 businesses, trade bodies and unions – also called for current financial support packages to be extended.

It also called for the Government to support tourism by creating a new autumn bank holiday, 10% cut to tourism VAT and the introduction of air bridges.

Chair of the APPG, Steve Double MP, said: “The UK’s hospitality and tourism sectors have been devastated by the Covid-19 crisis and this report highlights the scale of the damage done to businesses.

“These are two of the most important parts of our economy and our inquiry has highlighted the importance of supporting these vital sectors in both the immediate and long term.

“Whilst the support provided to the sector so far has been very welcomed, we are under no illusions that the path to recovery will be tough.”

Ms Nicholls said: “In every region of the UK, high streets in town and city centres have been almost entirely shuttered and normal life has been suspended.

“Hospitality and tourism were some of the first sectors to take a noticeable hit, even before lockdown began.

“The reality is that these sectors will also be two of the last to fully emerge and it will take time for employers to get back up to anywhere near full speed.”

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