A positive start for Yorkshire’s outdoor hospitality but...


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A positive start for Yorkshire’s outdoor hospitality businesses but still a long road ahead warns Yorkshire Recovery Task Group


As part of Welcome to Yorkshire’s recently formed Tourism Recovery Task Group, speakers from all sectors of the visitor economy are invited to speak on matters pertinent to industry to share information and insights which will serve to aid recovery.


The Recovery Task Force Group, via the public-private sector partnership framework Welcome to Yorkshire, has implemented various initiatives to collaborate with the tourism industry in the region during these challenging times, including the establishment of four subgroups which look at the role of culture, placemaking, & retail, hospitality, events and their inclusion in the region’s recovery. The group was initially formed in November 2020 to provide an opportunity for tourism stakeholders to have an impact on further positioning the county in a positive way and building a series of experiences that can highlight the region, ensuring that tourism is able to play its cultural, economic and social development role.


Most recently, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) highlighted the challenges faced going forward now that it is permitted to serve food and alcohol outdoors. Hit even harder than other hospitality businesses, the night-time/evening economy has faced a full twelve-month closure of nightclubs, concert venues, events etc and was reported by trade media in February this year to be ‘on the brink of extinction’.


Michael explained that pre-pandemic 300 million nightlife visits were recorded in the previous year, and that nationally, it was the UK's fifth-biggest industry, accounting for at least 8% of the UK's employment and annual revenues of £66bn.


Working behind the scenes, Michael’s team have been lobbying with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and played a key role in getting dates into the roadmap out of lockdown. 


“We were pleased beyond belief when the roadmap dates were confirmed, giving the industry not only the opportunity to plan, but also the fact that the Prime Minister mentioned ‘Nightclub’ four times in one week meant that we had become part of the narrative after having previously been excluded”, said Michael.


The group heard how NTIA’s conversations with Government at the very onset of lockdown, in March 2020, exposed a lack of clarity on where to align the night-time economy between DCMS and BEIS. This resulted in positive collaboration and establishing a communication strategy with the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs), collaborating on research reports analysing the sector over the last 10 years, to better understand the night-time economy as an ecosystem.


“We have identified 4 key subsectors in our industry - The primary night-time operators who are open and generate all their income from 6pm to 6am; the secondary night-time operators who generate most of their income from 6pm to 6am but are also operational during daylight hours. Then we have the unlicensed businesses that support the industry, such as taxi drivers and services, and finally the fourth subsector is the workforce associated with the night-time industry. Breaking it down in this way, Government has been able to understand the value of the night-time economy and its overall significance, he added.


The Task Force Group heard how the Night Time Industries Association had been consulted in the selection of the 15 pilot events led by DCMS from April 12th, focussing on the people element and how testing at events can take place, the logistics of testing, customer behaviour and technical solutions in ventilation systems with advanced innovations to address concerns around the airborne spread of disease. The results of the pilot programmes are anticipated to be ready by mid-May and will further guide the easing of restrictions, around Step 4 June 21st date, in the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.


Scott Grime, Tourism Education Development Manager at VisitBritain, also attended the meeting to provide an update on national tourism insights, as well as to take away learnings from Yorkshire. Scott explained how the 2021 March budget had delivered on all three asks from the tourism industry required for a positive opening of the economy, namely a continuation of the VAT reduction, business rate relief and furlough payments.


Outlining the VisitBritain strategy Scott explained, “Our domestic advertising resumes from April 12th, and this will be accentuated from 17th May with a focus on promoting city tourism. This is because we anticipate rural and countryside recovery will naturally be strong, based on last year’s response. We’re delighted to be working with Welcome to Yorkshire, having been awarded funding to promote our Escape the Everyday campaign on a regional level with a city focus across seven destinations in the county.”


On an international level, Scott informed that VisitBritain are involved in the global travel passport discussions that are ongoing and regularly update on Government considerations into establishing how that might look, and will craft nuanced messaging once any travel passport requirements are confirmed.


The Chair of the Recovery Task Force Group, Nicky Chance-Thompson DL. Said, “We’re pleased with the progress of the group, which is highlighting that our collective role and collaboration across all facets of the tourism industry is more relevant than ever. Working with the Bank of England and also with regular insight shared from other key national stakeholders, we have the opportunity to reset tourism and become more sustainable by embracing innovative models and leveraging regional collaboration to create a strong collective narrative that will accelerate tourism recovery.”


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