GNF Members Update 26 May - Issue 36

Dear Member

Over the Whitsun weekend Forestry England had to contend with inflatables on Hatchet Pond, overflowing honeypot car parks and verge parking on many forest roads. Worryingly, they also had to deal with a number of BBQ incidents, some of which were so dangerous FE staff had to put them out.

These problems bring into sharp focus the value of the tourism industry in providing lots of hidden additional service benefits in the overall management of the forest. In normal circumstances, the industry would absorb many thousands of visitors on their own premises, which all contain lots of toilet facilities, taking pressure off the forest itself.

With this in mind, perhaps it is time we started to lobby the Government to allow hospitality businesses to open up as early as possible, as long as they can demonstrate they meet Covid-Secure standards to ease the pressure on heavily visited destinations such as the New Forest.

This weekend's incidents shows the Government haven't thought through the full impact of the wonderful weather and the freedom to travel anywhere in England. However, it does give us an opportunity to demonstrate the huge benefits of tourism in managing visitors, as well as creating local revenue and providing lots of jobs.

£617m Discretionary Fund Update
In Issue 34 we reported that Self-Employment Income Support Scheme applicants were ineligible for this fund. We are pleased to report the Government has now corrected this anomaly. However, this has meant that NFDC has had to rewrite the criteria for applications and hope to open the fund in the next day or so. We will circulate a special Members' Update with application details as soon as we are notified by NFDC that the fund is now live.

ALVA Recovery Tracker
Attached is a copy of attractions-related recovery tracking research from ALVA. The key findings are that:
  • Since the government announcement around lockdown easing, the market has become even more cautious about visits than before, especially to indoor attractions
  • General concern over crowds and distancing is still the major visit barrier, but people are becoming more focussed on the safety measures they expect from attractions when they re-open
  • The benefit of a ‘charter mark’ is likely to be high – over half the market feel this would give them the extra confidence they needed to visit
  • Moving elements of the visit experience outside, where possible, will help generate visits
  • There is an increased acceptance of PPE among potential visitors
  • Concerns around using public transport to visit attractions are high
  • Visitors are not expecting blanket admissions price discounting

VisitBritain Covid-19 Business Hub
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, we have been working closely with VisitBritain and the tourism industry emergency response group, who have been sharing Government guidance as it becomes available. VisitBritain has created a specific Covid-19 Business hub which contains latest information and announcements.

HMRC Statuory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme live
It has just been announced that the coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is now live on GOV‌.UK. If you’re an employer with fewer than 250 employees, you can now claim for coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). If you have a tax agent, they can also make claims on your behalf. To make a claim now, please visit GOV‌.UK and search 'Check if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19).'

New Forest Business Support Hour
Wednesday 27 May 1500 Hours: Email Marketing in a Crisis - Free of charge
This week, Tim Wilson from Zettasphere will focus on email marketing and how to communicate with our customers, clients, guests, colleagues and employees during this COVID-19 crisis. He has years of email marketing experience and he is actively involved with email marketing projects for a variety of brands. Book by 1400 hours Wednesday 27 May.
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:

Food & Drink Sector Group meeting - Wednesday 27 May at 11.00am.
Food and drink will play a prominent part in our promotions over the coming months leading up to New Forest Food & Drink Fortnight this coming November. This meeting will be conducted on Zoom software; if you would like to join the meeting please contact and joining details will be sent to you.
Attractions  - Tuesday 9 June at 11am
Bed & Breakfast  - Wednesday 10 June at 11am
Self-Catering  - Thursday 11 June at 11am
Hotels Pubs Inns & Restaurants -  Wednesday 17 June at 11am
Holiday Parks & Camp Sites - Tuesday 16 June at 11am

Very best wishes,