Christmas is traditionally one of the most rewarding periods for all tourism-related industries. However, the COVID-19 crisis affected the holidays resulting in the collapse in international visitors. UKinbound, the UK’s travel association with more than 300 tourism companies, reports that the 2020 Christmas was a disaster that shrunk revenues by up to £2.5 billion.
Last year, almost 3.5 million international visitors arrived in the UK in December. Their total contribution to the country’s economy was approximately £2.5 billion. Not only hotels in London, Manchester, and other cities benefited from this. This sum includes money spent in shops, restaurants, attractions, etc. Starting from March, the number of international guests dropped by 76% due to the pandemic as the most important source markets such as China and the US became closed.
Inbound tour operators, as well as destination management companies or DMCs, are also experiencing troubles. Before the pandemic, they were bringing almost half of foreign guests to the country. Today, many of these companies worry that they can become bankrupt. That is why UKinbound urges to create a special Tourism Resilience Fund that will help tourism-related companies to survive in the crisis.
It is important to support tour operators and DMCs because their closure will affect so many industries and may severely harm the economy of the UK. Not only hotels but also such sectors as transport, retail, and attractions rely on tourists. Many regional destinations depend heavily on international guests brought by tour companies and DMCs. Without these visitors, thousands of people in smaller communities are at risk of losing jobs. Finally, if the tourism sector starts to fail, this can potentially make the UK a less competitive destination when borders reopen.
Many EU countries and Ireland already have special programs to support their tourism but the UK is still yet to come up with a decision. As the new, more contagious coronavirus had been detected, many countries decided to completely close their borders with the UK. This means that local tourism companies need support even more than before, and the devastating losses in Christmas might open the doors to the uncertain future in 2021.