I thought they were cancelled this year?
Apparently not. While the Government appears to have ruled out foreign holidays by way of a two-week quarantine soon to be introduced for all new arrivals to the UK (including British people returning from abroad), culture secretary Oliver Dowden says domestic holidays could return as early as the beginning of July subject to the now familiar caveats about the R number.
Isn’t that around the time restaurants could start to re-open in a best case scenario?
It is indeed. The whole point of this is to jump start the tourism sector, which according to Patricia Yates, the acting chief executive of VisitBritian, could lose as much as £37bn due to the Cornonavirus pandemic. It’s difficult to see how tourism would work without at least some of the hospitality industry up and running but there are an awful lot of questions that need answering. Most pressing of these is which types of hospitality venues will be allowed to re-open and what safety measures will need to be in place. Clearly social distancing will be in play, which means some tourists destinations will be better placed than others to handle an influx of holidaymakers.
It will be much easier for places that have a lot of space. Smaller places and venues could struggle to cope - there's even been talk about promoting less obvious destinations to take the pressure off seaside destinations and beauty spots. The Government hasn't officially said so yet, but outdoor eating and drinking is likely to be a key part of these plans. Housing and local government minister Robert Jenrick is even considering a proposal that would give hospitality businesses ‘blanket permission’ to turn public spaces and streets into al fresco dining areas. This could be incredibly helpful for business with limited outdoor seating.
Are we talking about England or the whole of the UK?
There's a lack of clarity over that. Dowden talked about being a champion of the 'great British break' but Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are setting their own rules when it comes to easing lockdowns and re-opening businesses. We'll have to wait and see, but based on Wales and Scotland's more cautious approach to the pandemic there's certainly a possibility that they will choose to go down a different path.
What about accommodation?
Again, it’s difficult to see how this would be workable unless people have places to stay. Hotels, B&Bs and the holiday home market have been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic because it struck just as the season began. Operators still don’t know when they will re-open and - like restaurants - few are taking bookings. In contrast, campsites have reopened bookings and have enjoyed huge demand because they are perceived to be much safer. There’s also been speculation that the rental market may do better than hotels, which may struggle with some aspects of social distancing.
What other support is being considered for the wider-tourism sector?
VisitBritain is lobbying for an extra bank holiday to help make up for the two May bank holidays spent in lockdown. If successful, it would likely be around the school half-term holiday in October.
Well thank goodness for our famously reliable British weather...
Quite. Hopefully this summer is more about sun cream than cagoules. As one Conservative MP apparently delicately put it: “if it rains, we’re fucked”.