Government is being urged to create a ‘tourism resilience’ fund to help businesses reliant on international visitors to survive until the return of the market next spring.

The plea is part of lobbying efforts by UKinbound to help prevent further job losses in the sector.

The organisation also wants to see rate relief and grants to be amended to include tour operators and destination management companies.

The enhanced Job Support Scheme should be extended to operators and DMCs who have been prohibited from trading because of government impediments such as lockdowns and quarantine restrictions.

UKinbound reiterated the need for regional travel corridors and Covid testing on arrival to help restore consumer confidence in travelling to the UK.

Latest research results from the organisation show that viable, export earning, inbound tourism businesses would be saved from collapse, and highly skilled people could avoid redundancy, if the government provided targeted support.

Even with the new JSS, 72% of members fear they will still need to make job cuts.

Tour operators and DMCs have been hardest hit by the pandemic as they are reliant on international visitors for business, can’t pivot to domestic and were excluded from crucial support channels as government does not recognise that the operating conditions of these leisure industry businesses differ from those with an obvious shop window, according to UKinbound.

Less than half (40%) expect to manage through the crisis, however this rose to 62% after the October 9 announcement on the more targeted JSS option for firms required to shut due to local lockdowns.

However, only 37% of tour operators and DMCs stated they would be operational when business returns.

Confidence levels continue to be low, with just 17% of respondents saying they are confident about business in the next 12 month – still a rise on the historic low of 11% recorded in April.

A range of reasons were given for this low confidence including the lack of clear policy from government on travel corridors and no decisive move to testing pre-arrival rather than quarantine.

UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said: “Our research clearly shows that targeted government support does work, but the tourism industry is a diverse range of inter-related businesses that depend on each other for survival, and currently the UK’s 200-plus inbound tour operators and DMCs continue to be left out in the cold, struggling to survive.

“Inbound is the UK’s third largest service export earner, with 40 million international visitors visited the UK in 2019, contributing £24 billion to the UK economy.

“Over half of these visits were facilitated by tour operators and DMC. These businesses also deliver international tourists to locations across the UK, where they spend valuable money in regional city and rural economies.”

“We urgently need government, specifically Treasury and the Minister of Housing, Communities & Local Government, to engage with the sector and provide clear targeted support for these businesses.

“There is a pent-up demand to visit Britain; these businesses must be helped to survive so that they can help play a key role in the UK’s economic recovery.

“We will be delivering a proposal for targeted support to Treasury soon.”