'Budget is much-needed lifeline' for Yorkshire but challenges remain' - tourism boss
Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire James Mason has said the budget is a much-needed lifeline for tourism in the county.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak set out his budget earlier this week.
“Being presented with a long-term plan to assist the resurgence of tourism after a particularly turbulent year is a much-needed lifeline and a light at the end of the current lockdown tunnel," said Mr Mason.
"Government guidance and assistance for businesses and individuals, fits well with Welcome to Yorkshire’s Tourism Plan, alongside businesses and local authorities, to Reopen, Recover and Rebuild, this vital visitor and tourism sector as we emerge from the coronavirus crisis," he said.
"However, there is lots to consider and digest, with certain challenges ahead for many.”
Positives include the extension of furlough which will be a relief for many employers and employees.
The £700 million made available for the arts, culture and sport will also be welcome as all have been hit particularly hard.
"Pubs, restaurants and other non-essential retail businesses should benefit as the business rates holiday continues for another three months, plus there will be a freeze on alcohol duty and no increase in Income Tax, VAT and National Insurance.
Yorkshire will be part of eight regions selected to be freeports with the Humber and Teesside selected, plus confirmation of the first ever UK Infrastructure Bank based in Leeds to drive a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’.
Announcements of incentives for home-buyers, first-time property buyers and support for employment training and a boost for apprenticeships are all aligned with Welcome to Yorkshire’s promotion of the county as a place to live, study and work, as well as visit.
“There’s lots to look forward to and embrace, but crucial consideration should be given to many aspects of the road to tourism recovery in the weeks and months ahead and Welcome to Yorkshire will get behind and lobby for any areas which need important input and action,” he said.
“A six months extension of the business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will cease at a time when it’s needed most and tourism organisations enter a quieter season, this is when additional support will be critical.
"Plus it’s still uncertain if Government-backed insurance will be offered for the hospitality and events industries which are the backbone for tourism.”
"Welcome to Yorkshire will continue to work closely with the county’s amazing attractions, brilliant businesses and local authorities to Reopen, Recover and Rebuild a tourism industry which pre-pandemic was worth £9 billion to the county’s economy and employed almost 225,000 people.
"It is now more important than ever to work together as #YorkshireTogether to surge forward and emerge successfully from current restrictions and to embrace the opportunities ahead, whilst supporting businesses, organisations and individuals during such challenging times."