In a chaotic lockdown world, messages from holiday hotspots in the UK this weekend are bank holidays the same as at Easter four weeks ago: stay away.
However, behind the scenes tourism officials and hospitality bosses are busy figuring out how destinations will start welcoming visitors back this summer. Without knowing exactly what changes will be announced when Boris Johnson makes his road map on Sunday, tourists across the UK are making plans for the reopening of tourist attractions and businesses in stages because they are trying to save some of the 2020 season. “We are not can wait until the lockdown is over and it turns out we don’t have a plan, “said Gill Haigh, chief executive of Cumbria Tourism. “The question is how do we reset.”
This is a big question. Discussion about what should be opened and when it occurs against the background of great public anxiety about getting out of lock. A Observer polling at the weekend found that the majority of believers were too fast to reduce restrictions, and local people were very angry with those who break the rules now, as happened this week in the Lake District.
The challenge for destinations is to provide opportunities for tourism that needs them while convincing visitors, employees and residents that they will be safe. As a result of this complex balancing act, vacationing in England this summer might feel like we have traveled back in the 1950s, before the advent of affordable foreign travel: there would be a day trip to beaches, parks and gardens; we will be able to buy ice cream but will not eat in crowded restaurants; if it rains, we will not take refuge in the nearest museum or indoor activity center.
Open spaces in rural and coastal areas and attractions with large tracts will be the first to welcome visitors, not only because it is a place where social distance can be maintained, but because, after locking, people will be attracted to nature because of its calming effect. “Our consumer research shows that people want to return to simple pleasures,” said Kate Mavor, chief executive of the English language Legacy, which manages 400 historic sites in the United Kingdom. “People can come by picnics and enjoy closeness to nature. There is also the extraordinary comfort of being in places that stand the time – survivors of war and disease outbreaks. We will be a tonic for people when they come. “
But even simple pleasures will be different post-locking. Pre-booking visits to heritage sites will be the new norm. The one-way system, additional signs, hand-cleaning stations, and staff at PPE will be a familiar sight because attractions try to minimize risks to visitors and staff.
“The challenge even with open space will be around security and ensuring people make sense,” said Deirdre Wells, chief executive of Visit Kent and Hertfordshire. “What people used to do won’t happen now: just showing up at the National Trust may not be possible.”
The opening of this first phase will be closely monitored by the tourism council who are aware that recovery depends on the trust of the local community. “If local people see that these tourist attractions act responsibly, you warm them with the idea of more visitors coming back in the late summer and autumn,” said Jo Dilley from the Peak District Marketing.
Riddell Graham from Visit Scotland added: “We had a situation that wasn’t very helpful from the start when people were try to go to the island to isolate themselves. So, whatever we do, we have to take the interest of the people, especially in more remote rural areas. “
At the same time by convincing the public that their safety is a priority, tourism officials will drive the value of visitors to the local economy. The impact of coronavirus on 241,000 tourism businesses in the UK has been a major disaster. “You cannot underestimate the economic importance of visitors to an area like ours,” said Haigh from Visit Cumbria. “If tourism is not permitted to return – and if tourism value is not created, many businesses will not be here at this time next year.”
Of course the economic impact is not only on business. Financial pressures on individuals will affect recovery. Greg Stevenson, founder of a home-based company Under the Straw, said the company accepts daily bookings for July and August – but especially for more expensive properties. “Rich people who book a five-star cottage.”
Stevenson, who lives in Ireland, believes that the announcement of Johnson’s road map will increase public confidence. “I’ve seen it in Ireland, where there are big differences in public feelings[[[[since the five stages of locking out were announced on May 2]. I think people in the UK won’t panic too much about the situation after Sunday. “
He believes the independent property will be in the second stage of opening. New procedures will be put in place, such as sterilizing hard surfaces and providing antiseptic sprays, but he believes there is an appetite for this summer’s vacation. “I have no doubt at all that there is a request for people to leave tomorrow.”
Camp owner Quiet Site at Ullswater agree that the appetite for traveling will return relatively quickly. “In Denmark, which is the first European country to reduce restrictions, demand reached 90% compared to last year. “There will be no rush to travel but it will return,” Daniel Holder said. He anticipates camping and caravans returning to his site this summer even though the on-site bar, shop and check-in will come later. “It will be difficult to break even this season.”
Hotels, restaurants and bars are also concerned about opening in mid-season with reduced capacity because social distance will be fatal for certain businesses unless the government expands its financial support. In an open letter to Johnson this week, Robin Hutson, chief executive of Homegrown Hotels, operates six Pig hotel and Lime Wood Hotel in New Forest, wrote: “The worst-case scenario for rural hospitality is the ‘perfect storm’ stop, open hospitality, but social distance rules are imposed … This toxic recipe will soon translate into mass redundancy and permanent loss of hundreds of thousands. rural work. This will destroy economically and socially for rural England. “
The letter, supported by many big names in the food and hotel trade, including Rick Stein, Mitch Tonks, Michael Caines and Gordon Campbell-Gray, called for flexible and part-time leave schemes until the end of the first quarter of 2021 and extended holiday business rates to second quarter. He is optimistic that hospitality will be considered when the Ministry of Finance announced the details of the scaling scheme.
Like hoteliers around the country, Hutson and his team are working on a plan for post-operation operations. The steps discussed include meeting guests in their car instead of at the reception, quick check-out, a two-hour slot for room cleaning, and even decorative filtering between desks. “We spent hours talking about what we would do but without knowing the basic rules,” he said. “It’s very difficult to formulate a plan.”
These steps will reassure potential visitors, especially when the national kite sign shows that businesses comply with the new guidelines, but Hutson is worried they will also create a tense atmosphere: “People come to us for the social aspect – to hear the buzz of others in bar.It’s part of what we sell and if it doesn’t exist it will be weird.Little hope for our industry is that we might be the last to be ‘released’.at the time, the population might have gained the confidence to move – which can help mindset. ”
Although Hutson is worried about rural Britain, recovery will begin sooner than in the cities. Galleries, museums and other indoor attractions will be in the final stages of opening in late summer or early fall, although tourism officials hope to see life return to the city if planning restrictions are relaxed to allow restaurants and bars to expand into the streets. Street. “In Sweden they have closed the streets and made it a place to eat and drink at night to increase floor space and bring food out,” said Kurt Janson, director of the Tourism Alliance, a consortium of 55 trade bodies in tourism and hospitality. “This summer we might look more continental.”
Meanwhile, as the country prepares to spend other bank holidays at home, the goal hopes the proverb is used in recent times Visit the Scottish Easter campaign will ring this year: “Absence makes the heart get closer.”