THE TOURISM industry in the North-East and Yorkshire is calling for support is it moves towards what would usually be its busiest time of the year.

Tourism bosses say many businesses are unlikely to be able to operate at full capacity for months and have urged the Government to continue to support the industry until businesses can trade profitably.

Hospitality businesses, which may start to reopen from July 4, are asking for clear guidance on what will be expected of them at least two weeks in advance to allow them to make changes to their premises and services.

Sarah Green, chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Over the coming days and weeks we will begin to see how the Government will ease the restrictions placed on the tourism industry and how support measures change.

“We await confirmation of these measures but it is clear that the industry needs continued support and greater flexibility in regulations to allow for businesses to operate in the new world that we will find ourselves in.

“Crucially we need clear and consistent messaging from the Government around the visitor economy and what the public can and can’t do.”

This week marks English Tourism Week, an initiative to champion the industry, which is worth about £5bn in the North-East and £9bn in Yorkshire, and would usually be an opportunity to encourage people to visit the region's attractions.

James Mason, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said financial support needs to be extended to help businesses which cannot safely open at full capacity, like theatres and cultural venues.

He added: "They need additional funding to help them adapt to whatever the new Covid-safe measurements are. We don't want businesses to close because they can't afford to reopen because we will be much worse off as a society if we lose them."

He added: "Businesses need confidence that it's safe to open and consumers need confidence that they also feel safe and won't face recriminations for going out."

Since the start of the pandemic, the organisation has adjusted its remit to advice to businesses, and has been working to lobby local and national government.

Michelle Gorman, managing director at Visit County Durham said: “Additional government support for the visitor economy in County Durham will be vital in the coming months. During English Tourism Week we are highlighting the importance of the sector, not only in terms of jobs and visitor spend, but also in terms of the role tourism businesses play in their local communities, something which has been demonstrated more than ever during the current pandemic.”

“Despite being closed to customers, tourism businesses have supported communities through the provision of food and essential supplies to residents, NHS and keyworkers, learning resources for children being home-schooled, or online entertainment to lift people’s moods.

"The global outbreak of COVID-19 may have brought tourism in the county to a temporary standstill, but the amazing work that has been carried out, and the resilience shown, demonstrates an industry best placed to work together to ensure a timely recovery.”

Councillor Joy Allen, cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism at Durham County Council, said: “Now more than ever it is essential that we protect tourism’s future, a sector which is vital to the county.

"Not just in respect of its economic value in terms of jobs and visitor spend, but also because of how tourism businesses are so intrinsically linked to, and invested in, the communities in which they are located.

"English Tourism Week gives us the opportunity to highlight some of the incredible deeds being done by businesses including attractions and hotels, who, despite being closed to visitors during the pandemic, have been supporting their local community.”

CBI regional director Sarah Glendinning said: “During English Tourism week I want to pay tribute to the wonderful businesses both big and small that make our resorts and communities what they are. We are deeply proud of them as they carry on through this era of uncertainty with a sunny demeanour and a steely determination to re-open safely and offer a world-class service to their customers.

“This crisis has shown the value of these business, many of them very small, to the fabric of our towns and cities and we must do all we can to support them as we build back better.

“Tourism is in the lifeblood of the North East and local authorities, businesses and consumers should be united in helping these firms not only survive but thrive."