GNF Members Update 28 May - Issue 37

Dear Member

It's good to see that Boris Johnson has agreed to ask SAGE to review the two metre social distancing rule to see whether it can be reduced to one metre. This gives renewed hope for tourism businesses hoping to reopen in the next few months. However the main item in today's update is the launch of Phase 1 of the New Forest's Tourism Recovery Plan.

Tourism Recovery Plan
The first step in our Recovery Plan, which we launch today, is to promote the need for local residents to provide a warm welcome to visitors when we hopefully reopen on 4 July. The fact that this is a Saturday is a concern and we are hopeful the Government will allow a soft reopening earlier that week. This will allow businesses to get used to their new operational arrangements in advance of what is likely to be a busy first weekend.

The second key issue is to get the earliest possible confirmation from Government that 4 July is now a fixed date for tourism's re-opening. Businesses need at least 2-3 weeks to plan for re-opening and ensure supplies, staff and other operational issues are in place. It also follows that Covid-Secure Guidance is urgently required to enable businesses to effectively plan to meet guidance prior to reopening.

As soon as the Government confirm the details of their Covid-Secure Guidance, we will include it in our Members' Handbook which partners our Recovery Plan and will circulate immediately. In the meantime a copy of the latest version of the Tourism Recovery Plan can be found below.

Weekly Consumer Sentiment Report
Week 9's BVA-BDRC report Key Findings for tourism are:
  • Intention to plan, book and take a UK holiday have increased significantly this week
  • Intention to visit attractions is at its highest since tracking began
  • UK holiday providers will need enhanced cleaning regimes & flexibility on bookings
  • Around 7 in 10 will not consider flying with a Quarantine policy in place.
  • People are looking at booking winter sun holidays overseas rather than summer sun holidays
  • People feel safer in a restaurant if there is an outdoor space or social distancing rules are in place
  • 63% of people say that they are planning to book accommodation in the UK within the next year

Timetable for Business Re-openings in June
The timetable to reopen non-essential retail businesses such as outdoor markets and car showrooms is 1 June. All other non-essential retail businesses can open from 15 June. What is not immediately apparent is whether gift shops and retail spaces in theatres, museums, libraries, heritage sites and tourism sites are deemed to be retail premises.

This timetable and rationale for opening non-essential retail businesses again raises the question of why tourism businesses such as holiday parks and campsites, self-catering properties and certain visitor attractions have to remain closed until 4 July. Quite why it is safer to enter a shop rather than enjoy the grounds of outdoor attractions, historic sites and gardens is difficult to comprehend.
Reopening High Streets Safely Fund Guidance
English councils will share £50m additional funding to support the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas. This funding looks to be of particular significance for tourism destinations as it can be used for:
  • Communications and public information activity
  • Business-facing awareness raising activities
  • Temporary public realm changes
However, it cannot be used for capital expenditure or grants to businesses.

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  - 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,