CLA letter: Cost of lockdown on Kent's tourism

27 May 2020

The CLA has responded to reports of the cost of lockdown on Kent’s tourism with a letter to the media.

Below we publish it in full...

I read with sadness the recent news that Kent’s tourism economy could lose more than £3bn due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is a sector vital to the county’s prosperity. As the Garden of England, Kent is at the forefront of any changes to the travel and tourism markets. Nearly 65 million tourists visited in 2017, employing 77,000 people or 11% of the total employment across Kent.

It is right that, for the moment, people stay away and follow government guidelines. But when the restrictions are lifted, we are encouraging people to book breaks and holidays in the beauty and safety of the British countryside.

We hope that people are looking forward to enjoying the tranquility and space that rural and coastal areas have to offer. Certain rural businesses, such as camping sites, are particularly geared up for social distancing.

To help the sector, we need support from Government. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses across Kent and beyond, is calling for the Treasury to cut VAT on tourism businesses to 5% to help boost the economy after Covid-19.

In the UK, VAT on tourism businesses stands at 20%, far higher than in many other countries, including France (10%), Spain (10%) and Greece (13%). A reduction in VAT to levels seen in other countries will ensure that domestic tourism is competitive and affordable, offering a significant boost to the economy while helping to keep our carbon footprint down.

Although the current situation is very difficult for rural businesses, there has also been an opportunity to reflect, review and prepare to build a better economy on a sounder competitive basis. We now need to be empowered to do so.

The rural economy has a huge amount to offer the country – economically, socially and environmentally. Government can show some real ambition in unleashing its potential.

For more information about the CLA and its work, visit www.cla.org.uk/your-area/south-east/regional-news and follow @CLASouthEast on Twitter.

Michael Valenzia,

CLA South East Director