New research has revealed that the economic loss to the region’s visitor economy could be nearly £3billion if the lockdown continues into the summer months.
The research was conducted by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) in collaboration with a range of partners, as well as a newly-formed tourism industry panel, and is calculated using historic STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor) data.
The sector can expect a loss of up £955million if the lockdown continues through to the end of May, however, the impact will be far greater if it lasts for the entirety of summer.
Tourism is the fourth largest sector in the region, worth more than £5billion to the economy each year.
In Northumberland, the latest figures show that visitors spent £1billion in the county in 2018, welcoming 10.48million visitors – a 2% increase on 2017.
The figures also showed that 13,020 people were directly employed by tourism in the county that year, a 6.27% increase on the previous year.
Coun Cath Homer, the county council’s cabinet member for tourism, said: “The council has been working hard to support all businesses in the county and we are actively lobbying the Government to bring further measures forward to help sectors of concern such as tourism.
“Tourism is a major economic driver in Northumberland, contributing over £1billion and attracting over 10 million visitors last year. We know that given the current circumstances this will be greatly reduced this year.
“However, we are continuing to work with our tourism businesses to ensure that, when the time is right, visitors will be welcomed back to enjoy our great county.
“We have already invested significantly in a new digital platform and online offer for tourism in Northumberland as well as developing a new brand and marketing campaign. These are poised and ready to go to ensure that Northumberland continues to be at the forefront of holidaymakers’ minds as a destination of choice.
“We know these are worrying times for the industry, but we also know that it is the passion and commitment of those businesses that will help us to economic recovery once current restrictions are eased.”
Back in March, Harvest Harris-Jones, chairman of the North Northumberland Tourism Association (NNTA), admitted that, having spoken to a number of business owners, they are ‘all scared for what the future will hold for tourism businesses across the county, our lives, homes and families’.
“Many of us have invested over the winter months to improve our offer and desperately need the income from visitors to keep our businesses going,” she added.
NGI says that it is working to make sure that the North East’s voice is heard on a national stage, to ensure that the industry gets the support it needs.
Chief executive Sarah Green said: “Tourism also plays a critical role in changing perceptions of the region – supporting the Government’s levelling-up agenda by driving inward investment and capital development.
“It is therefore critical that policy-makers, both regionally and nationally, work with the industry to find ways to mitigate the current challenges and to ensure we position our tourism businesses for the future – retaining jobs and the attractiveness of our region.”