Britain’s biggest tourism destinations demand Government helps them win back visitors

Bosses at some of Britain’s most famous tourist attractions have called on the Government to back a campaign to convince the public it will be safe to holiday domestically this summer.

Tourism chiefs are understood to be very concerned about the wariness of Britons to return to normal when the lockdown is lifted.

Patricia Yates, the acting chief executive of Visit Britain told MPs this week that just one in five people plans to holiday in the UK this summer, prompting fears many in the ailing industry could collapse.

Bernard Donoghue, chief executive of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, said that the future of some of the country’s landmark attractions hang in the balance.

On Saturday, those in charge of several high profile visitor attractions, told The Telegraph the Government should fund some form of “back to holidays” campaign to promote responsible tourism as soon as it is safe to do so.

The attractions are currently closed but several said there was a case for reopening outdoor parks and gardens as soon as possible.

Ministers have previously said people should refrain from booking a summer holiday, but the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said it will encourage domestic holidays “as soon as it is safe to do so”.

The domestic tourism industry is likely to be even more reliant on British visitors this year, given that international visitors could be unwilling or unable to come.

Dominic Hare, the chief executive of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, said: “I think there is a case for open air parks and gardens to open for very clear reasons.

“When we are allowed to open, the Government should explain that the reason for that is that it is safe to go.”

Blenheim Palace will be broadcasting a live webcam of the site, Mr Hare said, so visitors can check how busy it is before deciding to make the trip.

Stephen Bird MBE, head of heritage services at Bath and Somerset Council, who oversees the city’s main attractions including the Roman Baths, said the Government should be supporting the efforts of the industry to promote tourism.

He added: “Here in Bath we will be pushing all of our outdoor offerings because it is so easy to enforce social distancing.

“We would not reopen unless it was safe.”

Covid-19 has cost the Roman Baths £4.5 million with lost revenues of £620,000 projected over this bank holiday weekend alone.

David Harland, executive director of the Eden Project, in Cornwall, said the loss of the summer season had left attractions facing up to “three winters”.

He added: “A Government campaign to actively promote planned, responsible and safe tourism and to persuade many of us to rediscover  some of the delights of our own beautiful country would be very welcome.”

Rich Storton, director of zoos and engagement for London and Whipsnade Zoos, said: “Being closed has put ZSL under immense strain, as we rely on visitor income to fund not only the zoos, but our global science and conservation work.”

He added: “We’re hugely supportive of all efforts to promote and boost Britain’s rich and diverse domestic tourism.”

Jane Marriott, trust director at Harewood House, near Leeds, said: “A thoughtful domestic tourism campaign that focuses on building visitor confidence is a vital part of rebuilding the tourism industry across the country.”

Also backing the call is Historic Houses, which represents famous stately homes including Knebworth, Longleat and Chatsworth.

Mr Donoghue said: “Some of our greatest cultural assets – the things that people come from around the world to see – are in dire straits.

“We have asked the Government to open up outdoor attractions. It makes no sense that we can go to a garden centre but not to Kew Gardens.”

He added: “If everyone sticks to the rules then [tourism] will be ok. It’s only if people do not that we suffer.”

Earlier this week MPs on the DCMS Committee called on the Government to lay out the steps it intends to take to help kickstart the tourism industry.

Visit Britain is working on a Covid-safe “kitemark” scheme which could be displayed by hotels and attractions that have introduced measures to keep people safe to reassure potential visitors.

A DCMS spokesman said: “We’re working closely with the industry to assess how we can most effectively support tourism businesses during recovery and ensure holidaymakers have the confidence to book a great British break when it is safe to do so.”

This week the Government established a cultural renewal taskforce aimed at helping the leisure industry get up and running again.

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