'Incredible' optimism in Yorkshire's tourism sector as Boris Johnson unveils road map to lift lockdown rules

The unveiling of a road map out of lockdown has sparked an "incredible sense of optimism" in Yorkshire's multi-billion pound tourism industry amid a huge spike in the number of bookings for domestic holidays.

Hotels, self-catering cottages and B&Bs around the region have been "frantically busy" with bookings in the first 24 hours since Boris Johnson revealed his four-stage plan for ending coronavirus restrictions.

The Prime Minister said yesterday that spring and summer in England will usher in changes to make lives "incomparably better" as he set out a plan to fully ease the lockdown by June 21.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

According to the PM's road map, self-contained holiday accommodation, such as self-catering lets and camp sites could reopen form April 12 as well as outdoor settings like alcohol takeaways, beer gardens, zoos and theme parks. And from May 17 two households may be able to mix indoors, with indoor hospitality and hotels reopening.

The Yorkshire Dales, famous for its man-made patchwork of dry stone walls, traditionally-built barns and hay meadows, attracts huge numbers of visitors. Pic: James Hardisty

Read More

Read More
Welcome to Yorkshire records £200,000 loss in fallout to Gary Verity's departure

Susan Briggs, director of The Tourism Network which offers marketing advice to businesses, said she had heard from hundreds of businesses who spoke about feeling "very upbeat about UK tourism and Yorkshire in particular".

She told The Yorkshire Post: "What's interesting is until now, self-catering businesses were getting the bookings, whereas people were being a little bit more reticent about booking B&Bs and hotels.

"But the B&Bs and the hotels and the pubs with rooms are all starting to see bookings this morning, it was as instant as that.

"One said, 'literally Boris sat down and the phone rang'. I think the point is that there is this huge pent up demand to get away and people feel more secure going to familiar places in Britain. And we've just got such a range of things now.

"There is definitely much more demand in rural areas and coastal areas than there is for towns and cities, understandably. But it feels like that will change very quickly and it will become more even."

Elsewhere, there has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of visitors to the Visit York website promoting the Roman city.

And Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill has predicted a boom in visiting seaside resorts because of the pent-up demand from people who have spent little money during lockdown and now want to "make up for lost time".

In a sign of demand for foreign holidays later in the summer, Leeds-based tour operator and budget airline Jet2 has seen a "dramatic" 600 per cent surge in holiday bookings immediately following the Prime Minister's announcement of an exit roadmap from lockdown.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive James Mason said the release of specific dates for tourism businesses to reopen would "be a real lifeline for many parts of the tourism sector and allows for positive planning".

But he warned that after a "turbulent" year for tourism some businesses in the hospitality sector may not make it through the latest restrictions without government support.

He said: "Yorkshire has much to offer, including vibrant cities, a spectacular coastline, stunning countryside, tempting towns, astounding arts, fabulous food and delicious drink, as well as a wealth of history and heritage.

"Its abundant open spaces also means it’s a magnet for visitors wishing to make the most of a longed-for break to enjoy the great outdoors.

"The roadmap out of lockdown, means the thirst for staycations will be welcomed to kick-start the tourism and hospitality industry once more and encourage visits to attractions and locations, providing what will be a much-needed financial boost to this struggling sector.”

Sean Bullick, Managing Director at destination management organisation Make It York, said the road map out of lockdown would "give businesses time to plan re-opening and get ready to welcome visitors back safely".

A #LoveYork campaign launched in January to promote York’s tourism offer in 2021, first targeting the local and regional markets and then attracting a national audience.

Conservative MP Robert Goodwill said the cautious approach the PM had taken to emerging from lockdown meant tourism and hospitality businesses in his area would not see "the tap turned on and off again" as it was last year, when restrictions were eased before a second lockdown was imposed.

And he said: "We know that a number of people had a very tough time during lockdown but then there are other people whose income hasn't been affected by their ability to spend money has been very much curtailed, because the restaurants have been closed, they haven't been on holidays, they haven't been buying petrol to commute to work and all those things.

"So I think the combination of opening up just at the time of year when our resorts tend to be busy, and there is money waiting in a lot of people's bank accounts, and it's not universal, some people have had a very tough time, but a number of people have got money which I think they'll want to go out and spend and make up for lost time."

The majority of Yorkshire tourism businesses have secured accreditation from two industry standard schemes, We're Good to Go and Safe, Clean and Legal, to show they have put measures in place to become Covid-secure.

But with many in the hospitality sector unlikely to see any real income until April or May, they are waiting anxiously for news of what further support can be offered by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in next week's Budget.

Susan Briggs also said independent accommodation providers would benefit more if people booked directly through them rather than external booking websites, which charge a commission and have less flexible cancellation policies.