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Half a billion pounds in local tourism cash lost if lockdown continues for six months – report

Christchurch Priory is one of the town's biggest tourist attractions
Christchurch Priory is one of the town's biggest tourist attractions

TOURISM-dependent businesses in Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole could miss out on more than half a billion pounds if coronavirus lockdown measures continue for six months, a report has warned.

The BCP Council document says “detailed estimates” show missing the entire summer season could also lead to 9,000 job losses and be “difficult to recover from”, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But businesses have said they are optimistic that once restrictions are eased holidaymakers might choose a domestic break over international travel.

Many hotels and holiday firms have either furloughed staff or made redundancies as a result of measures preventing people from making trips.

Others have applied for support through business grants, with BCP Council having now awarded more than £30m of the £128m it has been given to distribute across the area.

But a report published ahead of its cabinet meeting on Wednesday warned the industry could lose as much as £507m if travel restrictions remain in place for the next six months. A three-month period of restrictions could lead to £245m in lost revenue and 5,000 job losses.

“Any extensive closure of the industry will effectively result in a lost season, and that may be difficult for the industry to recover from, other than in a changed configuration with potential significant disinvestment,” the report says.

Earlier this month, the District Councils’ Network said more help needed to go to more tourist-dependent parts of the country.

As reported in the A&T, New Forest business and tourism leaders have also called for more government help for traders who cannot access the multi-billion-pound financial help and risk “falling through the cracks”.

Tim Seward, the chairman of the BH Area Hospitality Association, said some businesses were struggling but that the area was in a better place than many others due to the number of events outside the summer period.

He said he expected a “slow recovery” once restrictions are eased but that they would then be catering for many people who have decided against travelling abroad for holidays.

His comments were echoed by Paul Clarke, the chairman of Bournemouth Coastal Bid, which represents many of the more tourism-dependent businesses in the area.

He warned there was “no guarantee” the important coach tour trade would return as strongly as it had been and that the rapid roll-out of remote working could hit the business and conference industry.

Cllr David Brown, BCP Council’s cabinet member for finance, said there was room for optimism with many people pushing back bookings rather than cancelling them outright.

“It will not make up for the weeks of lockdown – and we await to see if we get the Christmas bookings – but we must be ready to take advantage of the opportunity when the lockdown ends,” he said.

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