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Coronavirus: Tourist Towns Threatened by Drop in Visitors, Warn Councils

Published: 11 April 2020

Coronavirus: Tourist Towns Threatened by Drop in Visitors, Warn Councils

Tourist towns and seaside resorts reliant on seasonal crowds are under the threat of becoming “ghost towns” as people stay at home amid the coronavirus emergency, warn councils.

Around the country, places heavily dependent on the booming holiday season are anticipating plummeting visitor numbers in the months ahead, pushing businesses and jobs to the brink.

Many would normally expect a large influx of visitors over the Easter period, but this year will be a different story altogether.

The District Councils’ Network, which represents councils for many of England’s tourist and culture locations, says councils are working with businesses on the frontline to help them get by but that more help is needed.

It is calling on the Government to support local efforts to avoid permanent scarring as a result of the lockdown, and to protect the future livelihoods of workers reliant on busy summer months.

As people rightly stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak, district councils will be working hard to help struggling tourist towns and seaside resorts, including:

– Helping businesses stay afloat with administering rate reliefs and distributing grants

– Helping families through the benefits system and administering the Hardship Fund

– Making sure key council services continue, such as housing advice and homelessness, waste collection and more

However, the DCN is calling on the Government to go a step further ensuring sufficient funding for councils to help local businesses, increasing future high streets funding for all towns, and expanding the Hardship Fund to respond to rising demand and enabling councils to help solve problems.

It says a short-term emergency intervention now could secure the future of seasonal businesses and save livelihoods, building on the support for local tourism organisations known as destination management organisations.

Cllr Mark Crane, DCN lead member for stronger economies, said:

“Some of our finest, most picturesque and beautiful tourist villages and towns, including those rich in cultural importance and heritage, face an unprecedented challenge.

“These are places dependent on seasonal demand in order to survive, which are usually guaranteed large numbers of visitors week in week out, but this year this is sadly unlikely to be the case.

“With people rightly staying away to minimise the spread of infection, this could have a devastating impact on many places that rely on the tourism industry.

“There’s a real risk that if they don’t recover, our tourist towns could become ghost towns. It will also put huge pressure on families suffering lost income and high unemployment.

“Districts councils know our businesses, our restaurants, our cafes and our attractions, and we know our residents. We are doing all we can to support them, but whatever the time of year our tourist towns will need further help and investment to ride out this storm.”

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