Jules Cuthbert gets used to canceling vacations. The 41-year-old Bristol mother of two abandoned her plans for a mid-term trip in October to Merthyr Tydfil when the South Wales town was locked down on September 22. It was the fifth public holiday she has had to postpone since the start of the pandemic and it may not be the last. As coronavirus cases continue to rise, Cuthbert is unsure whether she should continue with her mid-term plan B – days in the South Downs. “I’m rethinking if we should travel at all because we live in a heavily populated area with a large student body. I am a hospital pharmacist, so I am very aware of the potential risks of moving from an area with a high number of cases to one with fewer. Cuthbert’s experience is far from unusual. While many British holidaymakers managed to escape to the countryside in July and August, recent measures to contain the spread of the virus have destabilized autumn and winter holiday plans and dashed any hope that the holidays in mid-term could help tourism businesses recoup some of the fall and winter vacation. losses incurred during the first lockdown. Local closures, the rule of six and the 10pm curfew for restaurants and bars had already led to thousands of vacation cancellations and seriously damaged travelers’ confidence. A consumer study conducted by VisitBritain between September 28 and October 2 showed that only 10% of people planned an overnight trip this month, with the majority (51%) blaming government travel restrictions for not not feeling confident enough to travel, and 48% citing concerns about catching Covid. With more of the country now on high alert (level 2) or very high alert (level 3), tourism bosses say the situation can only get worse. Merthyr Tydfil has seen vacations canceled following a local lockdown. Photograph: Matthew Horwood “It’s death by thousands of cuts,” said Rob Paterson, managing director of Best Western, a group of 300 independent hotels across the UK. “The most recent data shows that bookings for its hotels in the north of England and Scotland are down almost 70% compared to the same period last year. In London, there was an annual decline of 65%. The only part of the UK where bookings were strong was the South West where there was no local blockade, but now hotels in the area are also experiencing a year-over-year decline in business. . The loss of mid-term bookings along with dire Christmas prospects will be the last straw for some of the group’s hotels, Paterson said. “As soon as the new level system was announced, we noticed a new booking behavior. We will see more cancellations. Many hotel owners will now close until March. Fran Downtown, managing director of Tourism Southeast, said the ever-changing restrictions are a blow to accommodation providers, attractions and hospitality businesses. “The nervousness has increased noticeably – we’ve seen a significant drop in footfall in the area over the past two weeks,” she said. Attractions remain open, but the drop in visitor numbers, in addition to already reduced capacity, has led many to cut back event plans typically scheduled for half the quarter. In a recent poll by Welcome to Yorkshire, the region’s tourism board, a third of tourism businesses said they were canceling activities halfway through. “Business owners need certainty to invest [in events and activities]. If we continue with this stop-start in perpetuity, some companies will simply opt out, ”said CEO James Mason. VisitBritain predicts a 49% drop in national tourism spending in 2020, equivalent to a loss of £ 44.9 billion to the economy. Thousands of people working in the UK travel and tourism industry have already lost their jobs, with more to come. The Major Tourist Attractions Association, which represents some of the UK’s most popular institutions, from the National Trust to the Tate, reports that almost all of its 70 members are currently in consultation with staff. A report published by Globaldata last week summed up the grim outlook. “The coming months look bleak for the UK tourism industry and with the national infection rate continuing to rise, there appear to be no signs of slowing down in the near future.” .
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