SHOW some imagination – and take a look at New Zealand – that’s the message to the government from one of the champions of tourism in the Herald area.
Chief executive of Shakespeare’s England Helen Peters is calling on the government to “throw away the rule book” to help save the sector from long term damage.
VisitBritain has suggested an extra bank holiday in October to help boost the industry but she wants to see more action: “I believe the government should really be using their imagination to support the industry – the suggestion of an extra bank holiday is welcomed but more needs to be done.
“While an extra bank holiday might be a viable option it might have very limited impact; it has been proposed to coincide with October half term but there are differing half term dates across the country and the potential for bad weather, while many attractions may already be closed for the winter season.
“The New Zealand Prime Minister has suggested the country looks at a four-day working week, but with the same number of working hours each week to protect productivity levels. This could increase the days available for local people to visit local tourist spots by 50%.
“This would work well for most industries with obvious exceptions such as manufacturing, but would ultimately benefit the leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors substantially.
“This is the kind of initiative our government needs to be implementing – even if only on a short trial basis. They need to throw away the rule book and look for be innovative before it is too late.
“Adapting to working from home has radically changed how businesses function, and by reducing the working week to four days, the increased leisure time would be a very welcomed boost for tourism businesses, at the same time as addressing the country’s well-being and work-life balance.”
Tourism has typically been worth more than £777 million a year, employing 13,000 people with nearly 11 million trips to the area.
She added: “While the furlough scheme has clearly helped, there now needs to be more government support and initiatives, to help bring back one of the hardest hit industries from the brink of collapse.
“There are still many unanswered questions regarding social distancing and how it will impact on the financial viability of businesses when they are able to reopen, and exactly what requirements these companies will need to put in place to operate and whether such measures make their business unviable.”