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Recovery & Resilience: Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Sector

Blog by Helen Peters, Chief Executive, Shakespeare's England

Prior to the beginning of March, the region’s tourism industry was preparing for the start of peak season in Warwickshire, anticipating a strong 2020 season, but over the last eight weeks, the position of these businesses has rapidly changed.

Recovery & Resilience: Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Sector

On average, nearly 11 million trips are made to Shakespeare’s England every year, and the industry is worth over £777million to the region, employing over 13,000 people, 10 per cent of the overall regional employment, which makes it a particularly significant sector to be hit by the impact of coronavirus.

Shakespeare’s England launched a series of surveys in partnership with the West Midlands Growth Company, North Warwickshire Tourism and several of the Business Improvement Districts in Coventry & Warwickshire and Greater Birmingham.

The results showed that over 80 per cent of businesses are experiencing a drop in revenue of more than 50 per cent due to coronavirus, with 65 per cent relying on the Government’s furlough scheme for support.

Although the scheme has helped the majority of these businesses to retain staff for the time being, most said they could only survive the current ‘lock-down’ for one to three months, and highlighted the issues with the support on offer.

Tourism is a very low-margin sector, with the majority of businesses relying on the peak summer season, so if lockdown remains in place for tourism businesses until later in the year, the results could be catastrophic without government support.

Shakespeare’s England has also been working with VisitBritain/VisitEngland, UKinbound, Tourism Alliance, ALVA and other industry bodies, to ensure the most up to date information is available to our Members and to tourism and hospitality businesses in the area.

As we start to move towards a potential easing of lockdown and looking ahead to our restart campaign, the focus will be on domestic visitors and more specifically our local supporters.

Our priority is to support South Warwickshire tourism businesses, focusing on welcoming people back to the area once it is safe to do so, and we are looking at initiatives like postcode offers and discounts for local visitors once we enter this stage.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic will hit South Warwickshire’s tourism industry hard, but we are working to support businesses as we look ahead to when domestic tourism will become a focus for many.

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