Steve Double (Con, St Austell and Newquay) opened a Westminster Hall Debate on domestic tourism on 12 January 2021. He began by outlining how important tourism was to his constituency and said that whilst the industry had been one of the most adversely impacted by the pandemic, it had done so much to help the country get through it.
Double called on the Government to do everything that they can to ensure that all viable businesses survive this period. Robbie Moore (Con, Keighley) called for extra support to be given to the self-catered accommodation sector. Double agreed and added that those businesses would not open their doors and suddenly see the revenue flow back in overnight, and it was important to look at what can be done for those sectors.
On promoting domestic tourism as the UK "reopens", Double suggested extending the business rates holiday, as expecting business to pay full business rates as they start to reopen in April will put a "huge strain" on their cash flow. He added that he would like to see VAT on tourism and hospitality cut permanently, "but at the very least there is a case for extending the VAT cut for another six months to enable those businesses to build up the working capital they will need." Finally, he called for the repayment terms of the Government backed loans to be extended.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nigel Huddleston responded that the Chancellor "provided further support for businesses and individuals, including extending various Government-backed loans, the furlough scheme and the self-employed scheme, and in particular the Government introduced new local restriction grants."
In addition to those schemes, the Chancellor last week "announced one-off top-up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, which are worth up to £9,000 per property, to help businesses through to the spring, plus a further £594 million discretionary fund to support other impacted businesses" and encouraged those businesses which had fallen through the cracks to apply for these discretionary funds.
The Minister said that as the vaccine rolls out, the Government would listen to the sector's priorities for recovery, and incorporate them into its thinking, "that means that we will allow businesses to reopen as soon as possible. We also want to ensure that where businesses are open, they can do so as profitably as possible." In the long term, the Minister noted the Government's intention to future-proof the tourism sector and determination to "play our part in developing a more sustainable, innovative and data-driven tourism industry."
On Double's requests, the Minister revealed that there were discussions with the Treasury on extending the VAT scheme once more.
The full report on the debate can be read in Hansard.
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