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Cornish tourism industry welcomes VAT cut amid Covid-19 crisis

Cornish tourism industry welcomes VAT cut amid Covid-19 crisis

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 11:31am 15th July 2020. (Updated at 11:33am 15th July 2020)

The Cornish tourism industry has also welcomed further government support for businesses hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of Wednesday 15th July, VAT has been cut from 20% to 5% for the hospitality and tourism sectors, including on food, accommodation and attractions.

It is to help them through the coronavirus crisis but doesn't necessarily mean prices will go down for customers. 

The Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions says the reduction is vital financial support that can assist survival through the coming months. 

"Three months of enforced closure has hit many of our visitor attractions hard, and we welcome financial measures put in place by the government to ensure that the tourism industry gets through these difficult times.

"The VAT reduction will pass savings onto many businesses that will help support them and manage the effects of the pandemic on their business.”

Jonathan Bray, chair of the Board of Directors at Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions

beach coast

Meantime many of Cornwall’s top tourist attractions have reported an incredibly positive first week of trading, following the Government’s announcement supporting the reopening of tourism and visitor attractions from 4th July.

The majority of our visitor attractions reopened at the start of last week, with many reporting a better than expected response to visitor numbers. 

While a small number of attractions with large outdoor spaces – such as Eden Project, National Trust properties, The Lost Gardens of Heligan and Trebah Garden – were able to offer opportunities to visit from early June, last week will saw a more widespread return to business for the majority of our tourist attractions.

Organisations such as Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm and the Cornish Seal Sanctuary have reported excellent trading – with Healey’s returning the same onsite daily sales as the equivalent week last year by Wednesday of last week.

Other tourist attractions – including Eden Project, Land’s End and Newquay Zoo - who have reopened saw their visitor numbers increase steadily throughout the week and have opened additional catering outlets or increased their opening hours to cope with demand. 

Many attractions are slowly increasing their daily capacity for visitor number as they become more confident at managing visitor footfall, while ensuring they stick firmly to social distancing and safety measures. 

“It’s been reassuring to see such great visitor numbers at the start of July. Most of our visitor attractions have modelled for around 50% capacity, but it’s been wonderful to hear that many are exceeding that in their first week of trading again.”

“Our visitor attractions have been ensuring that everyone remains safe on site, and as their confidence grows in their ability to deal with visitors, they are opening up their sites more widely. We hope that the public confidence in having a great day out in Cornwall at our attractions continues to increase and we keep providing both locals and holidaymakers with great memories.”

Jonathan Bray, chair of the Board of Directors at Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions

cornwall beach

Attractions across Cornwall have been working hard to ensure they can reopen safely, with the health of their visitors and their employees of paramount importance. The visitor experience may be somewhat different to that which people are used to, but bosses say you can still be sure of a warm and friendly welcome at all organisations.

The message is strong in Cornwall – think, plan and book ahead. The majority of visitor attractions require customers to book their tickets in advance, often with a timed entry to ensure that sites do not become overcrowded. 

Safety measures have been put in place – so you will see socially distanced queueing systems, one way paths, increased handwashing and cleaning, opportunities for hand sanitisation, contactless payment and changes to food and beverage offers, all designed to keep everyone on site as safe as possible. 

Industry bosses say the Cornish visitor attraction industry continues to face challenges, with hopes that the summer season will allow businesses to recoup income lost from three months of enforced closure. While most attractions are opening this summer, some businesses cannot make it economically viable to open until later in the year, with some others planning to reopen in Spring 2021. 

Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions, alongside our industry partners Visit Cornwall and Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, will continue to call for continued financial support for the tourism industry.

“While we are excited to welcome back visitors, there is no escaping the fact that 2020 will continue to present challenges in the tourism sector. At CATA, we will be speaking regularly with colleagues across the industry and presenting our views on the impact to our organisations. We’ll be working with those colleagues to lobby government for continued support.”

Jonathan Bray, chair of the Board of Directors at Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions

Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions, a regional industry group set up in 1974 to act as a voice for the Cornish tourist attraction industry, works with almost 40 of the county’s best visitor attractions. Providing support, peer networking, quality assurance and a promotional platform for the attractions, the Association has become an important tool for many of our local businesses.

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