BRITISH hotels will only be able to house 20 – 30 per cent of their usual numbers of guests this summer – and that's if they open at all this year.
If the lockdown doesn't deescalate enough for Brits to go on holiday within the UK by July or August, then a large number of tourism businesses – including attractions and hotels – won't bother opening until 2021.
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The dire warning was made by the Acting CEO of Visit Britain Patricia Yates, as the government continues to give no indication as to when the country will start to come out of lockdown.
She told Sun Online Travel: "Looking at the situation realistically, tourism business is going to be domestic tourism not inbound tourism.
"So July and August are really important months for businesses to be open – the normal pattern is businesses make their money in July and August when it is very busy, then make do for the rest of the year.
"Lots of businesses are saying that if they miss the summer then they will stay closed."
The government is currently giving no indication of when it expects the British tourism sector to be allowed to reopen.
In fact, Brits planning a summer holiday in the UK have been warned that a trip to tourist hot spots such as Cornwall and Devon are off the cards for the indefinite future.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told MPs that "at the moment and for some time to come," members of the public should not travel to visit popular British seaside resorts such as Cornwall.
But Ms Yates has warned that businesses like hotels need a least a month's warning before they are able to open to guests – especially with new measures that will be required in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.
She said: "Opening will be slow process, with occupancy levels of 20 – 30 per cent to start with.
"The timelines are very different for different businesses – for some outdoor attractions, if they are told they can reopen on May 7 then they can be up and running by May 11.
"But hotels and pubs would need a four-week lead-in to get the supply chain set up and hotels will have to set up extra levels of cleaning now too."
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Then there is the question of whether or not your business can even operate with new social distancing measures.
According to Ms Yates, some of the less expensive hotels are better suited to the new measures.
She said: "One of the bigger hotel groups that we have been speaking to think they could open up their budget chain of hotels fairly quickly as their is limited interaction between staff and guests.
"But with their top-end hotels it would be far more difficult as they would have to get rid of shared spaces – so no restaurants and no food and beverage.
"The question is going to be, can you operate with social distancing, can you run business as a profit and if you can’t would you open anyway?"
Hotels and attractions in Cornwall have already warned that they could completely fold due to the lockdown, as experts warn up to 80 per cent of businesses could close for good unless they are able to open for the summer.
Visit Cornwall chief executive Malcolm Bell said that Cornwall was also suffering after Easter, a usually busy time for the tourist industry, as caravan parks, hotels and food establishments had been forced to close their doors.
He said: "For the worst-case scenario, which we hope won't happen, if this went through to August we'd be talking about £1.2bn worth of lost earnings. According to our research that could be the end for 80 per cent of the business."
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