Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has called on the Government to provide additional support for the coastal tourism sector during the Covid-19 recovery period.

Through his membership of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Giles has heard evidence from the National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA) on the impact of Covid-19 on the industry. The key points covered in the evidence were:

  • Coastal Tourism pre-Covid was valued at £13.7bn in England and £17.1bn for Great Britain. 32% of all visits take place in July and August, 84% between March and October.  As such, the Covid-19 outbreak happened at the worst possible time for Coastal Tourism.
  • 7% of businesses have already permanently closed on the coast and the economic impact for 2020 is forecast to be a cut in tourism spend of £7.96bn in England, £10.3bn for Great Britain.
  • The Institute for Fiscal Studies, Centre for Towns Report and Hotel Solutions all predict that the economic impact on coastal communities will be severe;  20-25% of accommodation stock is predicted to be lost and it will be 2023-24 before the industry is back to pre-Covid levels even with recovery support.
  • The NCTA is working with Destinations (DMOs) and businesses and has developed a recovery plan for Coastal Tourism providing marketing, product development, training and business support to address seasonality and build resilience to return the industry back to pre-Covid levels by 2023-24.
  • Whilst Government support to date has been gratefully received, ongoing support for recovery is now urgently needed to support coastal communities.

Giles has previously raised the plight of the tourism industry during debates in Parliament and has also joined colleagues in writing to Ministers to ask for additional support. Tourism is important for the Clacton constituency, and across the Tendring district the industry has an economic impact of £392m, employs 8,751 people (6,491 of those full-time), and makes up 17.4% of all employment.      

Speaking about the NCTA evidence, Giles said:

“Clearly, the evidence from the National Coastal Tourism Academy is startling, and it echoes what I have been hearing from local business owners in recent weeks. These businesses have diligently followed the rules that have kept us all safe and have suffered financially for it.

“It is now time for the Government to ensure that they get the restitution they need to be able to continue as part of our vital tourism offer. We know that tourism is the cornerstone of our local economy, so we need to ensure that these businesses get all the support they need to recover from the lockdown, and I will push Ministers on this until that support is in place.”