How COVID-19 Is Ravaging the United Kingdom’s Tourism Industry

This is not the time to be a charming British village, unfortunately

River in Edinburgh, Scotland
In certain tourist hotspots in the UK, one in three jobs is at risk.
Andy Falconer/Unsplash
By Tanner Garrity / April 30, 2020 7:30 am

According to forecasts from the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturing, the total number of jobs at risk in post-lockdown United Kingdom is far greater in tourist-reliant regions like Cornwall, the Lake District, and Yorkshire. This tracks with recent, sobering estimations from Visit Britain, which claimed the UK could expect losses of over $18 billion in 2020, and 22 million less visitors streaming into the country’s usual hotspots, like the surfing beaches in the South West, or forested hiking trails up in Lakeland.

In such areas, an astonishing one in three jobs is at risk. Much like the United States, where 80% of hotel rooms currently sit empty, the UK’s hospitality industry is currently struggling to stay afloat. An overwhelming majority of British workers in the hotel, food, arts, entertainment and recreation industries have been furloughed. Towns that employ workers in those industries might be skipped altogether this year; once the COVID-19 crisis officially fizzles out, the high holiday season in a notoriously temperate kingdom may well be already over.

Meanwhile, “knowledge” centers in the UK, like Cambridge and Oxford are the least at risk of post-lockdown job loss — though their figures are still relatively high, at 20% and 19%, respectively. The South East, where most of the UK’s highest-earning households are concentrated, and the capital, London, are also more prepared to handle the depression ahead.

As for how to help the hardest-hit areas bounced back? A few weeks ago, a hotel official in Charleston, South Carolina likened COVID-19’s impact to a devastating hurricane. But unlike a storm, at least, there won’t be years of revamping battered infrastructure. Once travel is safe and encouraged, the best way to help areas that rely on tourism is to simply bring your tourism. Stay in their hotels, buy their ice cream, splash in their surf. Something to daydream about during these long, tough days.

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