MP Bob Seely has written to Tourism Minister, Nigel Huddleston, with a list of suggestions about how the Government could help get the UK visitor economy back on its feet.
Bob highlighted the fact that there were 2.4 million visitors to the Isle of Wight in 2019, who spent £303 million directly related to tourism. He also pointed out that the wider economic impact of tourism and hospitality on the Island equates to almost half a billion pounds annually.
Bob said: “Getting tourism-related Isle of Wight businesses back up and running is vital to the recovery of the Island’s economy.
“Businesses largely dependent on visitors returning cannot be left to fend for themselves, they need support, and I am determined to help them.
“I have listened to representations from a wide range of local businesses affected by the lack of visitors and I have sent our collective ideas to the Minister.”
Bob has asked the Minister, alongside with his ministerial colleagues, to consider the following:
- A 5% reduction in VAT on tourism and hospitality
- Additional grants and furlough funding beyond October
- A longer payback period for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Local authorities to be allowed to use unspent monies from the Small Business Grant Fund scheme
- An extension to business rates relief by a further six months
- Support for the payment of refunds
- A regeneration fund for tourism
- Flexibilities to trade beyond current restrictions
- An extension of the term for existing Business Improvement Districts
- A reduction in the two-metre social distancing rule to one-metre (having regard to recent research funded by the World Health Organisation).
In addition to these proposals – which would be of benefit to both the Island and the rest of the UK – Bob also highlighted the specific challenges which his constituency shares with the Isles of Scilly: how visitors reach us. He referenced the emergency fund of £10.5 million which the Government has made available to support lifeline transport links to these English island communities, before going on to highlight the current efforts (in liaison with the Department for Transport) to get a more regular ferry service operating once again across all six cross-Solent routes.
Bob said: “This is absolutely essential in enabling our tourism and hospitality sectors to receive visitors – both for day trips and overnight stays – once it is safe to do so. I am grateful to the Government for its involvement in both these preparations and the provision of ongoing support to ensure connectivity to and from the Island.”
After praising the work of Visit Isle of Wight – and it’s Managing Director Will Myles – in contributing to the development of national standards for the re-opening of tourism businesses, Bob went on to say: “The Isle of Wight is leading the way. We now want to become an exemplar for how the tourism and hospitality sectors can get back on their feet.”