“Private holiday lets, including Airbnb properties, could reopen as early as next month as ministers seek to kickstart the domestic tourism industry….
….”Mr Dowden [Culture Secretary] confirmed yesterday that ministers would also be launching a campaign to encourage Britons to book domestic holidays in seaside towns this summer. He said: “We’re hoping to get tourism back as rapidly as possible, and when it is back we will be investing extensively, ensuring we have a major campaign to encourage British people to take British staycations.”
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Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said the government’s target was for the sector to reopen by July 4, with self-let properties likely to be among the first to be available because they present a “lower risk” of spreading coronavirus.
Domestic tourism chiefs are hoping for a boom once the lockdown restrictions are eased to allow people to stay overnight away from home.
Campsite and holiday park owners, as well as private rental outfits, have been lobbying the government to allow them to be among the first in the hospitality sector to reopen, claiming they are already set up for social distancing.
The news was welcomed by Airbnb, the world’s biggest private letting platform, last night. A spokeswoman said: “The British summer holiday is back on the horizon and hosts are getting ready to provide accommodation away from the crowds that’s local, private, clean and safe.” At present the website has a booking block on “non-essential” stays until at least July 4, but says it has developed a new “cleaning protocol” for hosts to follow in order to minimise the risk of the virus transmitting.
Mr Dowden confirmed yesterday that ministers would also be launching a campaign to encourage Britons to book domestic holidays in seaside towns this summer. He said: “We’re hoping to get tourism back as rapidly as possible, and when it is back we will be investing extensively, ensuring we have a major campaign to encourage British people to take British staycations.”
Domestic travel agents have said bookings for staycations this summer, starting from mid-July, are looking promising, although September is proving to be the “stand-out month” after a recent surge in reservations.
Mr Dowden also said a proposed new bank holiday in October, designed to boost domestic tourism, was an “excellent proposal”. Experts predict such a move could raise an estimated £500 million for the economy.
He told MPs: “One of the challenges we will have is getting the [tourism] sector up and running as strongly as possible in the summer, and extending it for as long as we can.”
The idea of an extra bank holiday to compensate for the impact of the pandemic was proposed last month by the UK’s tourism agency, Visit Britain.
Its acting head, Patricia Yates, told MPs that the industry had lost the benefit of two bank holidays in May because of the lockdown.
“It’s really important to extend the season, and bank holidays are really valuable,” Ms Yates said. “Having a bank holiday in the October half term would really drive business and remind people that the holiday season is still going and not just ending in August.”
The culture secretary added that he and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, were “looking at further measures” to support financially hit coastal areas before then. Tim Loughton, a former Tory minister, cited research that workers in seaside towns were being laid off faster than in any other part of the country.
No 10 confirmed last month that the government was looking at the idea of an extra bank holiday but warned that it came with “economic costs”.