UK tourism sector to flag attractions with physical distancing measures

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: UK tourism industry leaders plan to introduce a physical distancing standards symbol for hotels and attractions to encourage the return of visitors once lockdown measures are eased.

The move is part of a bid to encourage responsible travel in the country when it is safe to do so.

Visit Britain, the UK’s tourist authority, confirmed an industry mark, similar to the British Standards Institution’s Kitemark, to flag up attractions, and potentially accommodation, that have implemented safe distancing measures. It said it would provide more details when they were available.

Visit Britain’s acting chief executive, Patricia Yates, said: “We think as an industry that’s going to be a real shift in where we are in consumer behaviour now.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said Visit Britain hoped to persuade ministers to think about encouraging tourism, after successfully persuading the population to stay at home in the coronavirus lockdown.

She said the tourism industry would be “asking government to be just as clear when they start announcing the lifting of lockdown that it is socially responsible to go out and travel. And yes, you can drive and enjoy yourself”.

The tourism industry is worth an estimated £127bn to the UK economy annually and employs more than 3 million people. Much of that income and employment has been cut off by the lockdown, amid forecasts that some of Britain’s most beautiful spots will be worse hit.

The industry is worried the stay-at-home message has been so successful and overzealously interpreted, that it will require a new campaign to encourage people to venture out when it’s safe to do so.

However, for the moment it cannot be seen to be encouraging travel when the message from the government is to stay at home.

Police and councils have reminded potential tourists not to travel ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

David Simpson, the leader of Pembrokeshire county council, said: “Pembrokeshire is a beautiful place and when the time is right, we will welcome you. But that time is not now.”

The council and Dyfed Powys police have written to the owners of around 6,000 holiday homes, urging them to remain where they are.

Key workers in north Devon have started a campaign to thank tourists for staying away from the area.

Preston police reminded the public to stick to the physical distancing rules and only leave home to exercise or shop for essentials.

Courtesy: (theguardian)