GNF Members Update 10 May - Issue 30

Dear All,

Over the weekend I left an optimistic out of office message on my Go New Forest email account, in the hope we’d have a clear roadmap for recovery from the Government during Mr Johnson’s Sunday night broadcast. And whilst it wasn’t particularly clear, the PM’s words certainly took account of the need to get the tourism industry back to work as soon as the situation allows.  

July re-opening for some local tourism?
In yesterday evening’s much anticipated statement, the Government hopes to reopen 'some of the hospitality industry and other public places' in England, meaning at least hospitality is now being mentioned by name. Whilst the reopening would be later than the 'June earliest' date for shops and schools, the 'July earliest' date for tourism & hospitality would potentially give some of our industry the opportunity to get a reasonable portion of summer season trading in.

The opportunity will however depend on scientific advice and the ability of businesses and services being able to keep to social distancing measures. These particular measures will no doubt prove challenging, both from an organisational and a financial viability perspective for many of our businesses. This will particularly be the case for those with finite capacities operating in small spaces. A full copy of the Government's Covid-19 Recovery Strategy can be found on the link below.

Destination Recovery Plan
Nevertheless, we now at least have some idea of a possible timetable which means we can start to put timelines to the actions identified in our Recovery Plan. Clearly there is much to do, not least over the next month or so delivering a successful Hearts & Minds campaign to win local resident support for the staged re-opening of our industry (see below).

This week’s round of sector meetings and the additional detail coming out of Gov’t on the details from yesterday’s statement will help us finalise the Recovery Plan and Member's Handbook. We therefore hope to circulate the updated versions and progress the promotional campaigns it contains so we can fully prepare for the first stage of opening up tourism hopefully in early July.

There is also a lot for our businesses to do in readying themselves for getting back to business in the “new normal”. For example, smaller businesses will need to ensure they can accept card payments or the more complex issue of accommodating social distancing measures and still being able to make a profit! Another key feature for businesses will be to sign up to and participate in the New Forest Covid-19 Charter. This will include both the VisitBritain and Government guidelines on how businesses can become Covid secure.

As reported last Thursday in Issue 29, GNF is also working in close co-operation with Forestry England, the NPA and NFDC on the re-opening programme for car parks, key messaging etc. This will ensure a collective common sense staged approach is taken to cope with the likely upturn in people seeking to use the forest for exercise, when rules are formally relaxed slightly from Wednesday onwards.

Local Residents Hearts & Minds Campaign
The first important step in our plan to re-open local tourism in the summer will be to ask all our local residents to support us in that aim. We are working with the local media and both our MPs to highlight the importance of tourism, its supply chain and the many local non-tourism businesses and jobs it provides. Whilst it’s understandable that some residents might be nervous about welcoming visitors back when we re-open, it is critical we are able to do so with their full support when Gov’t guidelines say we can start operating again. 

The vast majority of our member businesses are already in a very precarious financial situation, so we also want to explain how important it is for them to operate for as much of the summer season as possible. This will give them a fighting chance to stay afloat during the quiet winter months. If not, many simply won’t survive and everyone will lose out. The campaign will also build on the wonderful support we’ve received already from lots of local residents who’ve bought forward buy vouchers, supported individual business crowdfunding efforts and used those of our members currently offering takeaway and online sales services. 

Upcoming GNF Virtual Sector Group Meetings
The following Sector Group Zoom meetings have been scheduled - invitations will be sent to each group with agenda and joining instructions:
Attractions, Activities & Events -  Tuesday 12 May at 11.00am
B&B -  Wednesday 13 May at 11.00am
Self-Catering -  Thursday 14 May at 11.00am
Holiday Parks & Camp Sites -  Tuesday 19 May at 11.00am
Hotels Pubs Inns & Restaurants -  Wednesday 20 May at 11.00am
Food & Drink -  Date and time to be agreed

Very best wishes,