Bright future predicted for tourism in Northumberland despite challenging times

There may be tough times ahead for many tourism-related businesses in Northumberland but there is hope on the horizon.

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 4:45 pm

That is the belief of Harvest Harris-Jones, chair of the North Northumberland Tourism Association and owner of the award-winning Laverock Law Holiday Cottages, near Lowick.

“We are getting ready to welcome visitors again but there are so many unknowns at the moment,” she said.

“One thing for certain is that people are going to have to work really hard to ensure people can come on holiday with confidence.

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“There will have to be changes in the way we do things but I do still think there is a bright future for tourism in Northumberland.”

There has already been a big financial impact for some and, with the government’s roadmap to recovery indicating a potential reopening by July 4 at the earliest, there will only be a limited summer season.

“It’s been really hard for many businesses,” said Harvest. “Some have been able to get a £10,000 grant but start-up businesses aren’t eligible for them so they’ve been hit hard.

“The financial damage is there. Some businesses simply haven’t had the income they rely on and many will look to make money in the summer to get them through the winter.

“I personally think that Northumberland can extend the season quite a long way by using its dark skies and winter wildlife to encourage visitors but at the moment many rely on the period from Easter to the October half term.”

She hopes there will be a staycation boost with late bookings from holidaymakers reluctant or unable to enjoy foreign holidays.

However, it is a double edged sword as foreign holidaymakers will find it impractical to visit the UK if 14-day quarantine rules remain in place long-term.

“Northumberland Tourism has had a really big push to get more overseas visitors here but it’s difficult to see that happening if they have to quarantine,” said Harvest.

“However, we have started to receive booking enquiries again from people looking at a staycation. I do think people will be put off the prospect of flying on a plane and would rather go somewhere in their own car.”

For now, accommodation providers are preparing as best they can to ensure visitors are safe.

“I am sure people will come to Northumberland when it opens but it’s very important the right message goes out,” she said.

“B&B owners, in particular, who share their homes with other people are very conscious of the changes they will need to make.

“Meet and greets have to be changed, instructions have to be laminated so they can be sanitised and breakfast rules are going to be different.

“They will have to be pre-ordered, all portioned out on people’s tables and there will be limits on how many people can be in that space at the same time. They will also have to think about evening meals because restaurants may not be open.”

She concludes: “Tourism is a real key for Northumberland and the B&Bs and guest houses play a big part in that, especially as more people move towards short stay breaks.”

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