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6


IN VIEW


PUTTING OUT THE WELCOME SIGNS


Tourism special report by Ged Henderson


Every journey has to start somewhere and Lancashire tourism chiefs hope their roadmap will give the county’s beleaguered visitor economy the route to post-Covid recovery.


Unveiled in February, Marketing Lancashire’s  tourism and hospitality sets out half a dozen priorities to help businesses through this year and into next.


Key points include working to collate and share useful data and intelligence, lobbying the government for further support, working to  backing major initiatives such as Lancashire’s City of Culture bid.


The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the sector. Nationally, 2020 saw an estimated £73bn drop in revenue - a 57 per cent fall from the year before. The latest lockdown will increase that even further.


According to one study, 41 per cent of businesses surveyed suggested that they would fail by mid-2021. Tourism bosses in Lancashire say that would translate into a £2.5bn loss to


the county’s GVA and without targeted support could result in more than 25,000 job losses.


A Marketing Lancashire survey during the second lockdown revealed 99 per cent of the county’s tourism and hospitality businesses had been hit by the impact of Covid-19, with 78 per cent of them saying they would not be able to last more than six months.


We need to make


sure that everyone is aware of what we have to offer across the county


Since then, the furlough scheme has been extended, discretionary grants have been made available and the bounce back loan scheme has been launched. Despite those welcome measures, businesses are still failing.


The roll out of the vaccination programme gives some glimmer of hope, but the recovery for tourism will not be fast-paced.


National forecasts suggest that it will be 2022 before domestic tourism recovers to 2019 levels, with international tourism not returning to pre Covid-19 levels until 2023.


It is against that backdrop that the recovery plan has been drawn up, with its authors stressing it is for the short-term and is likely to evolve as the situation changes.


The strategy has been devised with input from Lancashire’s local authorities, the LEP’s Tourism, Culture and Place sector group and Visit Lancashire partners.


Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, says: “It is critical that we make every effort to support the sector during this extended lock down, and put plans in place to  able to do so, focused on making Lancashire a must-visit destination once travel is allowed.


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