Business, Latest News | Posted: Tuesday, May 12th, 2020 at 12:47 pm | return to news

Surveys highlight tourism fears in Dorset

Fears for the future of tourism in Dorset - which is valued at around £1 billion a year, and supports almost 40,000 jobs - has been highlighted in two surveys conducted by Dorset Council’s Visit Dorset team and Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Weymouth is a popular tourist destination
Weymouth is a popular tourist destination

Finn Morgan, business engagement manager at Dorset LEP said, “Tourism, hospitality and retail businesses across the county are experiencing a major impact on business operations, with a vast majority now experiencing cash flow issues.

“Many are accessing government financial support and a small number able to operate by making changes to access requirements, or diversifying their products, but what we’re hearing now is a need for longer term guidance and information to aid business recovery.”

Dorset Local LEP board member, and Dorset Tourism Association chairman, Richard Smith, said, “It’s clear from the evidence being collected across the county that Dorset’s tourism businesses need to find the way to reopen as soon as possible. If tourism is to remain restricted, the sector will need additional support to protect jobs, especially over the winter.

“We are drawing up guidance about how we can do so as safely as possible. A key focus will be to create an environment where businesses unsure about their future, start to feel increased confidence, and we would value input from the Government, as soon as possible, about what the national standards for safe working will be.”

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Dutton Gregory

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Dutton Gregory

Cllr Gary Suttle, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth and Skills and member of the Dorset LEP board, said, “We are reviewing the ever-evolving direction from central government and are working on how the ease of lockdown will affect Dorset’s business community. We are working closely with partner agencies and groups to ensure our support has a consistent message.

“We are also working hard on how we best support local business through what will be a challenging recovery period and understanding the longer-term impact on Dorset’s economy. The council is committed to evolving our strategy, frequently engaging with local businesses and ensuring that local communities and businesses are at the heart of our decision making.

“The recently announced new discretionary scheme will benefit many more businesses which have so far not been eligible for any of the existing packages of support.”

A further Visit Dorset survey will be sent out later this week and the council is encouraging businesses to respond and provide feedback again.

Dorset LEP’s COVID-19 Business Impact Survey remains open for businesses, charities and the self-employed to share the impact on their operations at https://www.dorsetlep.co.uk/covid19.

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