GNF Members Update 7 May - Issue 29

Dear All

Firstly, I need to make an apology to Sir Desmond Swayne, MP, for omitting his name from Tuesday's Members' Update as one of the 85 MPs writing a letter in support of the tourism industry. As we await the PM's first comments on the Government's roadmap for recovery this Sunday, it seems his PR team is already pouring cold water over expectations.

Nevertheless, over the last few days, we have been talking to the NFNPA, Forestry England and NFDC about preparing for any initial reopening of the forest. In doing so, both the NPA and Forestry England have given their support to our own local tourism Recovery Plan. See item below.

In that r egard it was great to see Rosie Kennar, Chair of the Hoburne Group, who are staunch GNF Members with Patricia Yates from VisitBritain and a B&B lady from Blackpool on BBC Breakfast News this morning. The points they all made were excellent, particularly how critical it was to safely open up tourism as soon as possible. You can catch up on iPlayer (skip to 2 hours 13 minutes) - note it expires 9am tomorrow morning.

New Forest Tourism Recovery Plan
GNF's Recovery Plan has now been circulated to our local managing agencies, and received warm support. You can view the latest heavily updated version below. All parties agree that it is likely that the New Forest will be reopened, at least to local people shortly with a staged reopening of other aspects of the visitor economy over the coming months. Until any announcement however, it is critical we all keep to the current restrictions.

A critical part of the reopening of the local visitor economy will be that we can demonstrate that our businesses have taken robust measures in line with Government guidelines, to give all our visitors the confidence to return when restrictions are lifted.

Zoo & Animal Welfare Grant Anomaly
Following the announcement of this welcome grant, it has unfortunately become clear that many of our animal-based visitor attractions are currently ineligible. We are pleased that Sir Desmond Swayne, MP for Forest West has agreed to make representations to Ministers on this particular point. Hopefully, this anomaly will be rectified, as previous oversights have been, following identification.

New VisitBritain Industry Standard for Covid-19
VB has been working across the industry (including GNF) and with Government to develop a common national industry standard Quality Mark that will provide a "ring of confidence" for all tourism businesses, as well as a reassurance to visitors that businesses have clear processes in place as restrictions are lifted. We will incorporate this Mark into the New Forest Recovery Plan actions and imbed in the soon to be published GNF Members Handbook for Recovery.

VB hope the standard will be available by the end of May or early June at the latest. Whilst development is ongoing, it's likely that businesses will complete a free on-line assessment to demonstrate they are following official Government guidelines. They will then be eligible to show a Quality Mark and certificate to demonstrate they have gone through the process. VB are also developing a major domestic campaign using the Mark to give assurance to the public that it is socially responsible to travel once restrictions are lifted.

DCMS C-19 Business Impacts Survey
The Department of Culture Media & Sport (plus Tourism) is inviting businesses to take part in a survey to understand the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak so that it can respond more efficiently to its stakeholders. Answers will remain anonymous and will be used to inform DCMS preparedness efforts. It would be helpful if you could spend 10-20 minutes to complete the survey so that the Government uses real business input in planning for the recovery.

Government's Discretionary Fund for small Businesses
Earlier this week we reported a further fund of £617m to support small businesses which were ineligible for previous Government grants. NFDC is still awaiting guidance from Government about the scope and level of discretion which can be applied to these funds. At this stage, there is no need for businesses to register their interest in the fund and NFDC will communicate details via their own Enewsletter, GNF Member Updates, and their Twitter feed @NFDCBizUpdates . Sign up to the NFDC Newsletter here.

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

Have a great weekend and let's hope the PM's Statement on Sunday is better news than we are expecting for everybody in our wonderful industry.

Very best wishes,