Up to 20,000 jobs to be lost in Yorkshire's tourism industry

Up to 20,000 jobs in North Yorkshire’s tourism and hospitality sector are set to be lost as the coronavirus crisis wreaks havoc across the sector.

Figures obtained by The Yorkshire Post show a forecast of a 13 per cent overall reduction in the North Yorkshire economy due to coronavirus, with the region’s multibillion tourism and hospitality sector set to bear the brunt of the damage.

Modelling from York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) projects up to 20,000 job losses in tourism and a 40 per cent drop in the value of the £2.67bn the sector generates each year.

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The findings come after a national survey carried out by YouGov and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport revealed 80 per cent of tourism companies believe their ability to trade as a viable entity is under threat in the next three months.

Scarborough under normal circumstances should be packed.

Restrictions preventing hospitality businesses are expected to be lifted next month and the so-called two metre review concerning social distancing is currently under review.

However, tourism bosses have warned this newspaper that even a reduction in social distancing to one metre will not be enough to make many businesses viable.

David Kerfoot, chairman of the LEP, said: “Undoubtedly tourism with accommodation, tourism from an attraction point of view, hospitality, pubs, charity sector is massively hit.

“We are also 97 per cent SMEs, of which some 80 per cent are microbusinesses employing one to five people.

Filey bay - pic by Tony Freeman

“They have taken the brunt of the virus. And what sector are a lot of those in? They are in tourism and accommodation.

“They are small attraction businesses. That is where the hit is really coming home to roost for us.”

James Mason, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “We have to consider lockdown and how we unlock slowly and make sure people are sensible in their approach but also tell people that we are open for business.

“We have got to say we are ready and open for business but we are also safe and sensible.”

Yorkshire Dales

In order to lead the fightback, the LEP is launching a campaign to help the region bounce back.

Running under the Greener, Fairer, Stronger banner, the campaign seeks to end digital disadvantage, support innovation and most importantly to make the region a global player in the green energy sector, a plan that is backed by business and academic leaders in the region.

The LEP says that the crisis presents an opportunity to fast forward plans to make North Yorkshire an epicentre for green energy, a sector which is predicted to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years.

Mr Kerfoot said the sector could prove the salvation of England’s largest county.

“We are moving towards a much higher value economy,” he said.

“Let’s look at things like our natural assets and move towards a low carbon circular economy. It is a big ask of our economy but I do think it is achievable because we have so many things going for us that can contribute to that.

“When we started doing this it was remarkable how many people wanted to get involved. This vision we are publishing is really the start.

“By becoming a greener economy it will considerably help the downside of the tourism and hospitality industry.

“We roll our sleeves up and get on with the job.”