Lincolnshire’s leisure and tourism sector can and will survive COVID-19
Coronavirus could not have come at a more unfortunate time for businesses which depend on tourism.
Many caravan parks will have only just opened and hotels, retailers and visitor attractions will have been eagerly waiting for the influx of visitors with the arrival of Spring just as the lockdown was put in place.
This is going to be devastating for businesses, many of which won’t have had significant revenue since September and owners will have invested in their businesses over the winter expecting to reap the rewards now.
But although it might seem like an impossible challenge, I’m confident that most businesses will be able to weather the storm and there will be much better times ahead.
The government’s packages of support for businesses, particularly those aimed at the leisure and tourism sector, will help lessen the impact and economists predict that there will be a quick recovery once the threat of the virus has passed.
Together with Visit Lincoln and Lincolnshire County Council, we’re confident that, in the long term, we will see an increase in visitors to places like Lincolnshire as people decide to avoid crowded airports and enjoy their holidays in the UK instead.
Many businesses across our region have now made use of the government’s new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, with workers being furloughed and paid 80% of their salary by the government. This is proving invaluable for employees and employers who would otherwise have no choice but to make redundancies.
Small businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate funding can also access grant funding of £10,000, which can help them to make ends meet and balance their books at this difficult time.
Businesses can also access funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme which offers loans of up to £5 million with no interest in the first year, and with the government guaranteeing 80% of the loan. After issues emerged which prevented lenders from granting the loans without personal guarantees, this scheme has recently been altered, making it now eligible to all viable businesses affected by COVID-19.
Businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector can also make use of two other schemes which are not available to other businesses: Grant funding of £25,000 is available for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses which have property with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, and businesses will also have a business rates holiday for 12 months.
With these schemes available, I urge all business owners to look into what support they might be entitled to and apply for it. Employers should look after their employees and focus on making their businesses as efficient as possible during the lockdown to ensure their survival.
Then, businesses should focus on making sure they’re in the best possible position for when the restrictions eventually lift. Things may seem bleak right now, but better days will come. We are all in this together and you are not alone in facing the most difficult circumstances you’ve ever faced. Reach out to other business owners, share your tips and experiences and seek out professional advice to guide you when you need support.
Lincolnshire’s tourist economy will thrive once again and we will be ready for the tourism boom we hope for once the lockdown comes to an end.
To help businesses across all sectors, we have created our COVID-19 Knowledgebase, which explains all of the schemes available so far and has important information and advice from our team members. If you’d like professional advice and guidance from our expert team or help in accessing the funding you’re entitled to you can contact us.