Extend furlough to save York’s 30,000 tourism jobs – Rachael Maskell

York Minster and the wider city depend on tourism, says MP Rachael Maskell.York Minster and the wider city depend on tourism, says MP Rachael Maskell.
York Minster and the wider city depend on tourism, says MP Rachael Maskell.
THIRTY thousand people in York work in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sector.

That is one in four jobs in my constituency, and we are really worried about the impact that this virus has had on our local economy, for obvious reasons, and particularly in the small and independent sector.

Normally, we would see eight million visitors come to enjoy York and it is understandable why that is – whether it is indoors or out, visiting the Minster, the museums or visitor attractions, taking part in the small independent retail offer that we have, walking the walls of the city, enjoying the green spaces, or simply wandering through the medieval streets or around the snickets.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But with Covid-19, our streets became silent and doors shut, and many have yet to open. Of course, this was just at a time when our city was picking up from the floods.

Rachael Maskell is the York Central MP.Rachael Maskell is the York Central MP.
Rachael Maskell is the York Central MP.

Our city describes this as entering into our third winter in a row and we desperately need help now.

I have three requests for the Minister (Nigel Huddleston).

First, the reputation of our city will be built on our city being safe, and that is why we need an excellent test and trace system in York.

I ask him to make representations to the Department of Health and Social Care for our city to have a walk-in centre for testing.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
This continues to be a tough year for traders in streets like York's Shambles.This continues to be a tough year for traders in streets like York's Shambles.
This continues to be a tough year for traders in streets like York's Shambles.

It would be a game-changer for tourism, because we cannot expect visitors who come in by train to then go out to a drive-in centre for testing.

We also know that many people in our city will want to get out again quickly, so I ask not only for a walk-in centre, but that we become a pilot for the rapid tests that are to be introduced.

Secondly, I want to come on to the issue of furlough. It seems that a bit more persuasion is needed. We absolutely need furlough to be extended.

Currently, in my constituency alone, I have 17,700 people who are furloughed. They are facing a cliff edge unless there is further support.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When Government Members say, “How long?”, I would say to the Minister: let us extend and then review.

Let us extend it beyond Christmas and review it in the New Year, and then take it forward from there.

We do not know what is going to happen over the next few months. 
There could be a national lockdown or local lockdowns. Perhaps the virus will die out.

Perhaps the vaccine will arrive. Therefore, let us take this step by step as we go.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Thirdly, I ask that the Minister meets tourism leaders in my city to understand the rescue package we need, because this recovery is going to take time.

So much money has been lost from the sector to date and we really want to make sure that we are a success going forward.

If he would be so kind to do that, I am sure our sector leaders would really engage with him and help him to put the right package together for the future.

Rachael Makell is Labour MP for York Central. She spoke in a House of Commons debate on tourism.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

IN response, Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston told MPs: “We have seen some positive signs in the past few months.

“The hotel and accommodation occupancy rates in coastal and rural 
areas have been relatively high—in some cases, back to 2019 levels by the end of August.

“Self-catering cottages, camp sites, caravan and holiday parks have generally reported a strong summer and many outdoor attractions have also seen high levels of footfall, but many outdoor and especially indoor attractions remain subject to capacity constraints.

“Many city areas continue to struggle, in part because they are especially 
reliant on and exposed to inbound tourism and business travel and, of course, we still have quarantine measures in place.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We will continue to monitor all this closely and take further action where necessary, but it is not true to say that the measures already in place will not help over the next few months.

“Businesses will continue to benefit from the VAT cut until January 12; the furlough scheme continues until the end of October; Visit England and Visit Britain will soon launch a new domestic campaign; and we are encouraging 
local planning authorities to relax planning conditions on caravan parks, campsites and holiday parks to extend the season.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today.

Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers.

So, please - if you can - pay for our work. Just £5 per month is the starting point. If you think that which we are trying to achieve is worth more, you can pay us what you think we are worth. By doing so, you will be investing in something that is becoming increasingly rare. Independent journalism that cares less about right and left and more about right and wrong. Journalism you can trust.

Thank you

James Mitchinson

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.