The Island’s hospitality and tourism sector has been urged to prepare for the return of summer visitors — after the government gave the green light for hotels, B&Bs and campsites to reopen from 4 July.
With summer staycations now in sight, Visit Isle of Wight, the Isle of Wight Council and the Island’s MP have joined forces to help push the Island to the forefront of the highly-competitive UK holiday market.
Welcoming yesterday’s (23 June) announcement by the Prime Minister, council leader, Dave Stewart, said he hoped it marked a turning point for Island businesses and local livelihoods.
“This is excellent news for our Island tourism and hospitality economy and reflects the safe and steady approach we have taken throughout this crisis,” he said.
“We can now work with our Island businesses to ensure we are able to save our summer — while still keeping our community safe and protected.
“The Island has so much to offer and because of restrictions with holidaying abroad, people can look to the Island for a safe and relaxing break after all the turbulence and stress of the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown.
“At the same time, we are looking at how we can put in place a system where people can leave contact details that can be used by tracing if needed.
“We need to get ourselves ready, offer the best experience we can in the circumstances and also remember to take time to enjoy our Island ourselves.
“Time to safely share the best of the Isle of Wight.”
Will Myles, managing director of Visit Isle of Wight, said it was important the Island spoke with one voice in reassuring visitors and residents that the Isle of Wight was taking positive action in welcoming tourism safely back.
And he said it was just as important for visitors to know what was expected of them to help protect the Island’s community from the virus.
Will revealed that a series of tourism and hospitality industry information sessions were being prepared to support local tourism-related businesses.
These online sessions will take into account the government guidelines which are yet to be released, as well as the Visit England national ‘We’re Good To Go’ standards, which sit alongside the Isle of Wight’s own local ‘Good To Go’ brand.
Will explained: “Understandably, public health is always the priority during the Covid-19 outbreak, but for tourism and hospitality, this day and the 4 July have been a long time coming.
“Now that the announcement is here, we have to be ready to welcome our visitors back onto our beautiful island — but we have to give them the confidence to book with our businesses.
“It is important we are all saying and doing the same thing to ensure we can say to them, ‘We’re good to go — the Island is waiting for you to return!”
The government also announced today that, from the same date, some leisure facilities and tourist attractions could reopen — as long as they could do so safely.
This includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
Island MP, Bob Seely, said the changes would enable many Island tourism-related businesses to implement plans they had been working up over the past few weeks.
“I have spoken to many Island businesses throughout the Covid-19 outbreak who have been struggling and I have been calling on ministers to help,” he said.
“As the Prime Minister said, our long-time hibernation is beginning to come to an end.
“We need to make sure that tourism-related businesses are not left behind in the fight for survival against the Covid-19 virus and I will take all necessary steps to ensure they have the best possible support to enable them to succeed.
“The Island is a leading tourism destination in the UK and I don’t want us to lose that. We must work together to ensure this happens in the safest way possible.”