Couldn’t fail to notice the government is spending some money on newspaper ads promoting Bath and nearby Bristol.
It comes at a time when our local MP Wera Hobson spoke in the House of Commons about the disastrous summer season the city has endured.
She highlighted specific businesses in the city of Bath that are especially vulnerable with the collapse of the international tourism market such as English Language Teaching Schools – which, as a sector, “bring £1.4 billion to the UK economy annually”.
She also showcased organisations that were working hard to diversify Bath’s reliance on tourism such as Visit Bath, Bath Preservation Trust, Bath BID and Bath Festivals. She finished her speech by promising to “work with the Minister to provide further support to this vital industry”.
Here’s her speech in full:
“It is always a great honour to speak about Bath in Parliament and represent this wonderful city. Like many cities, across the UK, we now need extra support from Government. Our local authority has been particularly exposed to the financial impact of the pandemic. Tourist attractions are a large source of income for our council and it means less money for vital services for our residents.
“Bath is one of the best places in the UK to visit and we benefit from the 6.5 million tourists each year who travel to see our city. Covid-19 poses a threat to much of our local economy and losing the summer season in Bath has been disastrous for many of our local businesses.
“I look forward to working more with the Minister to re-energize our tourism sector, in a way that does not risk the health of our community.”
“There are so many things that draw visitors from around the world to Bath. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Roman Baths and Pump Room, and the Herschel Museum. Between them, they have recently won three of Visit England’s 19 annual awards of excellence.
We welcome 6.5 million visitors a year and employ approximately 9,000 people in tourism-related businesses. Covid-19, however, has been catastrophic for our local industry not just nationally, but globally.
In Bath alone, the loss of the visitor economy in 2020 is estimated to be about £350 million. Our local authority has been particularly exposed to the financial impact of the pandemic. Tourist attractions are a large source of income for our council and it means less money for vital services for our residents.
Locally, we have had conversations about diversifying our economy and making it more resilient in the longer term, but businesses in this sector need urgent support now to make sure they survive. Organisations such as the Bath Preservation Trust are working hard to safely reopen their venues, but they have to operate at a significantly reduced capacity. Reopening will barely be viable.
It is a great shame that Bath Christmas market will not go ahead this year. Visit Bath, Bath BID and Bath Festivals are working on an exciting programme of events to hold instead. It is great to see organisations looking at innovative ways to safely support our local economy. However, with many seasonal events postponed, this off-peak time will still be a big challenge.
Destination management organisations will be essential in rebuilding confidence in the tourism industry. They provide crucial support for local businesses, including through marketing. They will be crucial in the recovery of the wider tourism economy, but they are very vulnerable now and they, too, need urgent support.
I draw attention to the difficulties faced by the English language teaching centres, of which there are several in my constituency. For students at those schools, visiting the UK is about far more than learning English; it is a cultural experience. They stay with local families and they visit our attractions.
More than 500,000 ELT students bring £1.4 billion to the UK economy annually, and that important industry anticipates it will lose more than 80% of this year’s business. I urge the Government to listen to the industry’s call for short-term support by including ELT in the business rates holiday and supporting the Study UK campaign.
Bath brings so much to the South West and the wider economy, and I look forward to working with the Minister to provide further support to this vital industry.”