United Kingdom

UK could get a 'coronavirus bank holiday' in OCTOBER

Britain could get a coronavirus bank holiday in October after a Cabinet minister backed the plans to deliver a boost to the struggling UK tourism industry. 

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the idea for an extra national day off was an 'excellent proposal' and worthy of consideration. 

UK tourism has been hammered by the coronavirus crisis with almost no tourists coming into the country from abroad due to an international travel ban. 

Meanwhile, a domestic ban on non-essential travel and social distancing rules has stopped Britons from taking breaks within the country. 

Tourism agency VisitBritain has proposed an extra bank holiday in October with estimates suggesting it could provide a ¬£500 million boost to the sector. 

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told MPs today he believes creating an extra bank holiday in October is an 'excellent proposal'

MPs today asked Mr Dowden to 'seriously consider' the move and he said: 'That is an excellent proposal. 

'One of the challenges we will have is getting the sector up and running as strongly as possible in the summer and extending it for as long as we can. 

'This is a matter that I am discussing with my colleague, the Business Secretary. 

The Culture Secretary also told MPs he preferred a holiday in the UK to overseas trips.

He said he will be 'at the forefront of championing the campaign for British tourism' once the sector is ready to reopen, and said the Government's target remains for this to happen in England 'by July 4'.

Seaside towns across the country have been particularly badly hit by the coronavirus crisis as it has disrupted the start of the period when they would be expecting most of their visitors.

Mr Dowden insisted he and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are 'looking at further measures' which could be introduced to help workers in such locations who are suffering financial hardship. 

Tory former minister Tim Loughton said research had shown that workers in seaside towns are 'being laid off at the fastest rates of any areas of the UK'.

He asked Mr Dowden: 'Will the Secretary of State look at greater flexibilities to allow the hospitality sector to open up sooner, particularly with outside premises, lobby the Chancellor to reduce the VAT rate on tourism to five per cent and make sure that our great British seaside towns can start to recover by making staycations a practical option.

'And he is very welcome to visit the delights of Worthing for a staycation at any time.'

Mr Dowden replied: 'I would be delighted to visit Worthing. Indeed I much prefer British holidays to holidays overseas so I would be delighted to visit his constituency and others.'

He added: 'I'm working closely with my colleague the Chancellor and we will be looking at further measures.

'And of course once the sector is ready to go I'll be at the forefront of championing the campaign for British tourism.'

Mr Dowden said the scheduled reopening of parts of the tourism and hospitality sector in July will only go ahead 'so long as it is safe to do so, and I am working to make that a reality'. 

The Culture Secretary also announced that the Government will be 'investing extensively' in a new campaign to promote holidays to British seaside towns after lockdown measures are further loosened. 

Asked what the Government will do help areas like Cornwall, Mr Dowden said: 'I spent many happy holidays there as a child and indeed have taken my own children there on many occasions.

'I think it is really important that, as I said, we're hoping to get tourism back as rapidly as possible, and when it is back we will be investing extensively ensuring we have a major campaign to encourage British people to take British staycations.'

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