Month: March 2020
Over the weekend it was announced that rules on wrongful trading are to be temporarily suspended to ensure that directors are not penalised for doing all they can to save companies and jobs during the current crisis. Not the cheeriest bit of news, but it does mean that technically insolvent companies will not be forced by the law to file for bankruptcy, or that those fighting to keep their businesses afloat over the new few weeks and months, don’t then inadvertently find themselves on the wrong side of the law. This measure is yet to be enacted, but the news may offer some comfort for businesses looking for a way forward:
Today the Welsh Government announced a further £500m Economic Resilience Fund for Welsh businesses, aimed at plugging the gaps in the support schemes already announced by the UK Government:
VB/VE are refocusing their international marketing activity in the light of COVID-19. Find out how to join the conversation at:
Yesterday evening, 26 Mar 20, UK Government and HMRC published employers guidance on the UK job retention scheme. The new guidance clarifies many of the questions raised by employers and businesses since the scheme was announced last week. It is UK guidance. You may wish to circulate the detail to your local business community:
Yesterday’s announcements of support for the self-employed have prompted a host of questions, queries and objections, as did the employees scheme when it was announced. It is safe to assume that similar clarification and guidance will follow next week, probably in a similar time-frame (I.e. not before mid week?).
1. The statement on support for self-employed from the Chancellor released late this afternoon can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-gives-support-to-millions-of-self-employed-individuals
As with previous headline announcements, there will be a number of detailed queries and questions to be answered, indeed, given the far more complex nature of self-employment, it may take longer to clarify the detail than the scheme for the employees.
2. I have received a copy of the first formal business impact study from a member destination today. I would welcome any intelligence on the impact on local businesses the impact on the DMO itself and any forecast on your ability to lead the local tourism recovery when that becomes appropriate (impacts on marketing budgets etc.).
3. The Government has stepped up its messaging this evening about non-essential travel for exercise, I.e. driving into or around the countryside in order to take a walk or other exercise. I know that the majority of member destinations have made it clear that they are closed to visitors, for example in my own locality:
With the exception of a 3 month grace on filing tax returns and the public facing launch of a GOV.UK Coronavirus Information service on WhatsApp. there was little of critical note to report to you on Wednesday 25th, hence no update. Hopefully this is indicative that we are over the immediate shock and understandable, initial confusion following Monday’s lock down and that some clarity and better organisation and understanding is now emerging. Today we are expecting information on the self-employed, which will be of great importance to many in the typical destination town or area.
For the last few days, you will have been focused on supporting your businesses. We have been looking at that too but have also started urgently looking at the issues of sustaining a network of very differently organised and resourced (finance and staffing) destination management and marketing organisations, operating to various, differing business models. It may be too early to think in detail about recovery plans but is not too early to start assessing whether all DMO’s themselves with survive the crisis to be in a position to lead the recovery locally and for those that are still operational, what the implication for the resources they will have to deploy to drive that recovery (marketing, events, conference budgets and ?)
I have spoken to many members and or had email updates over the last week. It is now time to try and formalise the collection of business, DMO and recovery resource impacts. The running updates given to date have be extremely helpful in informing colleagues national, including Government. What I am now seeking is your more considered internal reports and assessments, that have already, or will, I am sure, be produced in the coming days and weeks.
Please ensure any report you do share includes an as at date, indicates any caveats on whether we can use (quote) the information externally and if we can whether you are content for your location to be used (if it is necessary) or whether the detail needs to be used anonymously.
As the dust settles and hopefully you have more time, we looking at setting up a series of short conference call for destination mangers to share experience and to start to discussing the headline requirements and the national level support needed for recovery. I have been reluctant to take this forward yet, simply because I am aware of the degree of local pressures on each and every one of you. I’d welcome an indication from those who would like us to set up this service and if possible, an indication of when you would feel it appropriate to start from. I can have something up and running from 24 hours onward.
DCMS have issued a position statement setting out what the Government’s guidance on accommodation closure (in England) means in practice:
Should hotels and other accommodation providers shut today?
Businesses should follow the guidance and take steps to close for commercial use as quickly as possible. However, full consideration should be given to the possible exclusions in terms of which residents should be allowed to remain. And any decision to close should be implemented in full compliance with the social distancing guidelines.
Does the closure apply to Hotels, hostels, BnBs, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use, including short term lets e.g. Airbnb?
Yes. This applies to any business providing holiday accommodation, including short term lets bar very specific exclusions.
What are the exclusions?
Hotels and other accommodation providers should be able to remain open if
- They are part of the key worker / vulnerable groups / health response.
- There is a specific need for some or all of the site to remain open (e.g. they are housing people who have been flooded out of their homes and/or being used to provide services under local authority homelessness duties/powers or by other public services to provide emergency accommodation).
- Some people live full time in holiday parks and caravan parks – if that is their primary residence they can remain
What happens to families in temporary accommodation/B&Bs?
If the temporary accommodation is currently the families primary residence, they can remain.
What if people are symptomatic? Should they use public transport to return to their primary residence?
If anyone is symptomatic (cough, fever), they should not be using public transport. If they are not symptomatic but they need to return to where they live, then using public transport is ok. Whilst using public transport people should try to adhere to the simple social distancing principles of being 2m apart.
Can hotels continue to serve food?
Yes. Hotels and accommodation providers that are remaining open in order to house key workers, vulnerable groups and other exempted groups will still be able to serve food, subject to the social distancing guidelines (e.g. takeaway service / ‘grab and go’ or room service). Workplace canteens can also stay open where required but must adhere to social distancing guidelines.
The full stay at home guidance note supporting the PM’s announcement of 2030, 23 Mar 20 can be accessed on the British Destinations.net under the * menu tab or go direct to the page at:
Here are the major points of the PM’s speech as 2030 23 Mar 20 :
- From tonight, people in Britain will be allowed to leave their homes for only “very limited purposes” – shopping for basic necessities; for one form of exercise a day; for any medical need; and to travel to and from work when “absolutely necessary”
- People are warned not to meet friends or family members who they do not live with
- Shopping is only permitted for essentials like food and medicine, and people are advised to do it “as little as you can”
- Police have powers to enforce the rules, including through fines and dispersing gatherings
- All shops selling non-essential goods, such as clothing and electronic stores, are ordered to close
- Libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship are to close
- All gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with – are banned
- All social events, including weddings and baptisms are banned
- Funerals are not included in the new restrictions
- Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed
- Restrictions “under constant review” and will be checked again in three weeks. They will be relaxed “if the evidence shows we are able to”
Earlier this evening:
VisitBritain and VisitEngland industry update as at 1700 23 March, including details of industry survey opening today and closing 30 March:
and Visit Wales update including additional measure aimed at holiday and caravan parks etc. taken there:
Clearly the situation is fast moving, more to follow as we receive it.
Latest Government guidance essential travel, second/holiday home, campsites etc. and holidaying in general.
Yesterday the following specific additional guidance was issued:
Following on from the government’s guidance on social distancing in relation to COVID-19, people should avoid travelling unless it is essential.
Who this guidance is for
This guidance is for people planning to visit second homes or holiday premises during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People should remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.
The link to this notification is at:
I am sure most of you will be aware already but just to confirm the position regarding business continuity insurance and the concern that access was being denied to this by the Government’s decision not to mandate closure. The latter issue is a red-herring, mandated or not it has no real impact on accesses to continuity insurance and, lest anyone draw any other spurious conclusions, mandated closure by Government order isn’t something covered by general or indeed specialist business insurance of any kind.
As to the main issue here, very few businesses in the UK take out the extended cover option for business curtailment due to infectious disease. The vast majority of those that have will have taken out cover for notifiable diseases, the list of which are quite deliberately and sensibly specified in the scheduled of insurance. Convid-19 is a new disease and with the exception of a very small number of highly specialised policies, it will not be covered. Where cover is in place immediate necessary action such as deep cleaning to allow for reopening would be paid for immediately but loss of earnings due to long-term closure mandated or otherwise would in all likelihood be something assessed and paid for some time after the end of the event. If in doubt businesses should speak to their insurance brokers to understand their policies and what is or is not covered by them.
The salvation for many businesses, if there is any, will lie in the package of business support measures announced by Government. There has been some doubt about which businesses are eligible for what support, at what level if any. Guidance to local government in England issued today on the administration of the rates relief and small business grants of £10k (increased from £3k and non-repayable) may help you better identify which categories of local businesses may be eligible and sadly, in some cases, also confirm which are not:
Arrangement in Wales are similar but different in some respects. Latest updated information colleagues in Wales can be accessed at:
It is early days yet, however, it is already clear from the reports from colleagues in various different destinations of all types, sizes, styles and locations that impacts of Monday’s announcements and subsequent events have been immediate, severe to potentially catastrophic, depending to a large degree on how long current or potential enhanced restriction remain in place (weeks or many weeks and months?).
Despite the welcome support measures yet to be rolled out, the prognosis for many individual visitor economy businesses, their owners and employees and for UK destinations and for UK tourism as a whole is extremely poor. Consorted efforts are required at every level to help sustain as many businesses and valued staff for as long as possible, in order to ensure that there is sufficient viable product left in place from which to mount a successful recovery, whenever the current threat to human health, well-being and indeed in many instances, life, is finally behind us.
Please keep sharing information and don’t hesitate to ask us or through us other members for support. The information you are providing is being feed up the chain as and wherever necessary.
A quick update on general activities and actions being taken by colleagues in various destination, based on a small number of responses since the original request for information was issued yesterday:
The general situation is dire and since the advice to avoid travel and social contact, specifying a range of discretionary leisure based venues to avoid was issued on Monday, business and business confidence has largely collapsed, with a number of mainly entertainment venues and attractions already voluntarily closing largely on the basis that the advice made continuance both morally and financially unsustainable. More bad news is almost certain to follow in this respect.
The advisory nature of the social distancing has prompted a call for mandatory closure notice from businesses who believe that they are being denied access to their commercial curtailment insurance. We and others have raised this concern Nationally. This afternoon I have been sent a quote from the Association of British Insurers, which states that curtailment insurance is generally limited to physical causes (flooding, fire etc.) and that specific insurance for the impact of infectious disease is normally purchased, typically by larger companies, as an extension of cover. In their estimate very few businesses would be covered, even if closure was mandated. Cover will vary on a case by case basis and business are urged to check the detail directly with their insurers.
I can’t confirm or deny the accuracy of the ABI’s statement but from general experience I would tend believe that it is likely to be true. I will confirm the position as soon as possible,
Those few destinations that have so far reported specific actions have in general made the decision to curtail any paid for advertising for the coming spring season and potentially beyond in order to avoid wasted effort/resource and, critically, to create a recovery marketing fund. Major events due to take place in the next 1 to 8 weeks are being cancelled with scenario planning taking place on later events. A couple of coastal destinations have reported, delaying the appointment of temporary operational seasonal staff. The other main focus appears to be on trying to accurately assess the likely costs and penalties both internally to the DMO and externally to local business and businesses, based on various difference assumptions on the length of the crisis. That information will inform further actions.
Next critical stage will be the Chancellor’s announcements latter to day of measures to support the economy and it is hoped specific actions to support individual businesses sectors. Once that support is understood we may have some greater clarity around the scale of the issues faced and the likelihood of wide spread business failures within the visitor economy.