UKinbound has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for “aggressive and urgent” government intervention to “protect the industry from the devastating effects of Covid-19”.

The trade association – which represents more than 400 tourism and hospitality businesses – said urgent measures need to include guidance on how businesses can apply for Business Interruption Loans.

Other measures should be to extend rate relief to medium and large businesses, not just to SMEs; defer corporation tax, VAT, PAYE and other tax payments for a minimum of 12 months; and compensate employees in tourism and hospitality who have been temporarily laid off, forced to take unpaid leave or put on reduced salaries – as other European countries such as Germany, France and Denmark are doing.

UKinbound is also calling for the government to suspend the requirement for tour operators to refund customers who cannot travel and instead issue credit notes valid for 12 months.

It said cancellations affect the entire supply chain and other European countries are about to enforce this measure.

Joss Croft (pictured), chief executive of UKinbound, said: “These are desperate and unprecedented times and the only way of ensuring the survival of our vital industry, that employs one in 12 people across all parts of the UK, now is with government support.

“The UK’s tourism and hospitality industry simply has no revenue stream or working capital with which to sustain itself, and so we hope that the chancellor’s announcement today about further financial support for the economy will include our sector.

“Additionally, any support packages must be rolled out and available immediately with absolutely clear guidance; tourism businesses have days, not weeks, in which to survive.”

The inbound tourism industry contributed nearly £23 billion to the UK economy in 2018, making it the UK’s fifth biggest export earner and the third largest employer.