UKHospitality has urged the Government to extended and expand the VAT cut for hospitality businesses in order to stimulate demand and help support the tourism and hospitality sectors.

This follows publication of statistics which outline the impact of covid-19 on the UK’s travel and tourism industry.

According to figures published by the Office for National Statistics, overseas residents made 96% fewer visits and spent 97% in Q2 2020.

Accommodation and travel agency businesses saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first national lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020

In the travel and tourism industries, 16-24-year-olds have seen the largest fall in employment of any age group.

UKH CEO Kate Nicholls said: “The sudden and colossal drop-off in the number of inbound tourists recorded last year makes for shocking reading for the hospitality sector.

“Hospitality relies in large part on inbound tourism, and a healthy travel and tourism sector is going to be key for the survival of our sector in the months and years ahead. For hotels, leisure parks and visitor attractions it will be particularly critical.

“We appreciate that these figures are not going to return to pre-pandemic levels overnight, but we hope that everything will be done to encourage tourism in the UK, first domestically and then internationally, as soon as it is safe to do so. Key to this will be an extension of the VAT cut for hospitality businesses. If this is maintained and expanded to the wider hospitality sector, it can play a key role in stimulating demand and getting these numbers back up to where we need them to be. If this accompanied by an extension of the business rates holiday, then all the better for businesses’ chances.

“A healthy tourism sector means that we can play a bigger role in the economic recovery of the country and we can begin to refill these vacancies. As the worldwide vaccine rollout continues apace, we need to send the message that we are open for business.”