Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street; Fiona Allan, chair of the West Midlands Regional Board for Tourism, and CEO of Birmingham Hippodrome; and Martin Sutherland, chair of the West Midlands Cultural Leadership Board and CEO of Coventry City of Culture 2021, have sent a joint letter to Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, asking for the region to be used as a pilot area which would see the sector opening sooner than elsewhere in the country.
The leaders say the region’s tourism, hospitality and the cultural businesses have been hardest hit by the lockdown and, with little or no trading revenue being generated, have been almost entirely reliant on the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) to avoid wholesale redundancies and business closures.
They say the region believes there is now a pressing need to restore confidence in the sector so it can not only fully recapture the economic and cultural benefits it enjoyed pre-lockdown, but also grow further.
“Our tourism, hospitality and cultural sector was the first to close under the lockdown and is likely to be the last to reopen," says Mayor Street.
"Even then it will have to operate at a much-reduced capacity, but we believe we have a unique opportunity to re-establish the sector as a key economic driver in the region’s post-Covid-19 recovery, and we are asking Government to pilot the West Midlands as the region where this sector opens up faster than in other areas.
"This way we can lead the way and help strike the right balance between safety and outputs, allowing other regions to follow suit.
“It’s important for the West Midlands to build on its unique heritage and distinctive strengths and seize the opportunity to reset, rebuild and reinvent our region, and come back even stronger.”