Speech in Support for the Tourism Industry after the Covid-19 Lockdown
Tourism (with our cultural sector) is very important to Hastings and Rye’s local economy, which has taken a real hit because of coronavirus.
I would endorse the comments today, already made by honourable collages, on behalf of coach companies in Hastings and rye, such as Ramblers, Empress and Nova Bus.
We are now seeing an increase in benefit claims, across Hastings and Rye as a result of the economic fallout of Covid19. The local Jobcentre and staff have been heroic in their efforts to support local people, under the pressure of exponential growth in those needing their support.
In Rother District, around £330 million was spent in the local area as a result of tourism. Nearly 8,000 local jobs were supported with 29% of the local population employed as a result of tourism in Rother District.
In Hastings, tourism supports around 30% of local jobs and generates approximately £266 million for the local economy. All in all, in 1066 Country, tourism supports over 15,000 jobs and generates around £665 million for our local economy.
UK wide, tourism is recognised as an important part of the rural economy and has huge potential for growth, particularly in the more deprived rural areas and coastal towns, where there is untapped potential to generate tourism-related economic growth and employment.
Tourism has been considered a ‘Cinderella’ industry, but it is a great career choice, with global opportunities and it is expected to be quite resilient to increasing automation and computer-powered innovations.
In beautiful Hastings and Rye, it is clear that we need to diversify employment outside tourism to strengthen the resilience of our local economy. That is why transport infrastructure and a skilled local population through education is so important and two of the main local issues that I am working to improve.
The Government has given vital support to tourism and tourism related businesses throughout the coronavirus crisis and there are so many of my constituents enormously grateful for that support.
But ongoing support is desperately needed. For example, Hastings normally has a buoyant English language school culture with thousands of students coming every year to stay with families. As well as language tuition, trips are organised to our tourism attractions, such as the Sea Life Centre, the Smugglers Adventure, the True Crime Museum, Hastings Pier, crazy golf, Hastings Castle and our museums in Rye, Winchelsea and Hastings. All our attractions depend on these visits and if we cannot welcome back language students until 2022, they are going to struggle.
Local businesses, such as ABC Student Tours are also going to struggle and I fear that these businesses will not survive, having a long term impact on our local economy.
The last few months have seen our local communities really pull together to fight off the virus and result in our area having some of the lowest rates of infection and deaths anywhere in the UK. We in Hastings and Rye are now rallying around to support our local businesses, but we need the Government to help us by putting rocket boosters under the tourism sector.
I am asking our Government to continue to support our local tourism economy, so that out of this health crisis we can turbo-charge our local economy and save jobs and livelihoods.