Hospitality businesses need support to deal with coronavirus threat

Hotel occupancy dropped 15% and eating out down 7%, trade group says


HOSPITALITY businesses need “immediate and wide-ranging” support to deal with the threat of the coronavirus amid claims hotel occupancy has dropped 15% and eating out is down 7%.

Trade group UK Hospitality has written to prime minister Boris Johnson highlighting the impact COVID-19 has had on businesses across the country, claiming forward bookings for hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars have fallen by up to 50%.

The organisation has called for a range of support measures for hospitality businesses, including a moratorium on business rates for at least three months, to be extended dependent on the spread of the virus; a delay in business payments such as VAT, PAYE and national insurance contributions to ease cashflow; and a cut in VAT for hospitality businesses to incentivise bookings “so trade can resume as quickly as possible when the virus threat subsides”.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said the industry needs urgent support.

“There has been a significant impact on the sector – bookings are down, footfall is down, and all signs point to it getting worse before it gets better,” she said.

“This is now an emergency for our sector.

“If government doesn’t act to mitigate the impact and give us support, businesses are in danger. This means cash flow becomes a problem, venues are under threat and jobs at risk.

“By the time the immediate threat of the virus has subsided it may be too late for some businesses. Support is needed and it is needed now.”