'Let's work together to get Bay back on its feet'
- Credit: Submitted
Few will be sorry to see the back of 2020 a year that promised so much but brought misery to so many.
The loss of loved ones, jobs and livelihoods will be hard to come to terms with. Whilst we will never be able to replace those close to us, we have lost, or many of the businesses which have taken decades to build up we must make 2021 the year of recovery.
As we go through a third lockdown much like January’s weather the outlook looks bleak.
However there now appears hope and the exit doors are within reach.
To get there a number of things need to fall into place quickly.
Firstly, and most obviously the vaccines need to be administered not only to the first four categories by mid-February but the Government needs a target date to inoculate all those at risk and the over 50’s who want them. They can then offer them to the wider population as well.
The challenges will be great in supply, logistical and delivery terms but we need to think outside the box to succeed.
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That means opening vaccination centres 24/7 if practicable, using our Armed Forces and the private sector’s expertise as well as the NHS.
Assuming they prove effective and hospital admissions and deaths decline the Government need a timetable to remove all restrictions before the summer. The hospitality sector cannot start to recover before that happens.
Restrictions lasting into the summer months will damage recovery and cost further jobs with businesses unable to withstand five winters in terms of trading conditions, while in the current phase further financial support is critical to keep viable businesses afloat before they can trade freely again.
Tourism will be an important driver towards economic recovery in the country and especially in areas such as the Bay but it will take time to rebuild.
To aid that rebuilding for 2021 retaining a five per cent VAT rate or our sector, a business rate holiday until March 2022 and incentives to increase employment will be necessary.
One final important plank for longer term recovery will be the creation of a Minister for Tourism and hospitality with a significant budget and framework to build tourism back. That needs to happen now and I support those pushing for that change.
With international travel likely to remain restricted for the next 12 months the English Riviera is well placed to benefit from the year of the staycation. Targeting and building back group business in the shoulder months for the autumn will help resilience.
The future for our Bay can still be bright with the significant inward investment in all aspects of our tourism sector which started pre-pandemic continuing and accelerating.
We have much to offer domestic guests this year building on the many first time British visitors we welcomed last summer.
We look forward to welcoming international guests and students back during 2022 and why not those magnificent cruise liners who have graced the Bay full of visitors as well?
Whilst it will be a number of years before we can get back to 2019 levels let’s all work together to get our Bay back on its feet and make 2021 a memorable year for all the right reasons.