Written evidence submitted by Institute of Tourist Guiding, British Guild of Tourist Guides, Association of Professional Tourist Guides, and Driver Guides Association




Impact of Covid-19 on tourism sector – feedback from Blue and Green Badge Tourist Guides


This evidence is provided on behalf of


Who Tourist Guides are (to provide context)


Question 1 - What has been the immediate impact of Covid-19 on the sector?


Shutdown of the market


Financial distress and Tourist Guides leaving the market


Adaptation of product offering


Question 2 - How effectively has the support provided by DCMS, other Government departments and arms-length bodies addressed the sector’s needs?


The following points, in italics, are taken from Nigel Huddleston’s G20 Tourism speech on 24th April where he outlines the main measures the Govt has introduced to help the Tourism sector. We were also present on the seminar with Nigel Huddleston, arranged by UKinbound, where many of the same points were covered:


“To support businesses struggling with liquidity, the UK Government has announced:


These measures are all welcome, they are all positive for the Tourism sector but none of them directly benefits Tourist Guides because:


“On employment protection we have set up:


This is where the bulk of the support should be coming from



The main reasons so many Tourist Guides are NOT eligible for SEISS


  1. They have been training for past 2 years so do not yet have a trading record as a self-employed person
  2. They have paid themselves via dividends not salary
  3. They have paid themselves via PAYE but annually not monthly thereby missing the arbitrary 19th March cut-off point
  4. Less than half their income comes from self-employed Tourist Guiding
  5. They are slightly above the £ 50,000 trading profits cut off point


This appears to be an example of the Govt / Treasury not fully understanding the labour market which now has 5 million self-employed people



“In addition, we have launched an emergency fund to support local tourism management organisations through this period.”


This is a really positive step; regional DMO’s are very important for the Tourism sector and will be even more so in the future. More details in the section on the evolution of the market. It doesn’t directly benefit Tourist Guides although any measures to grow the overall market are commendable..


To summarise, there have been positive measures for the Tourism Sector and they are very much appreciated. This submission though is on behalf of Tourist Guides and there are clear gaps in the employment protection financial support that has been rolled out so far. 


2 small and easily achievable things we would like to call for:


  1. Training bursary - a small fund (£ 50-100,000 approx) made available to help people who have invested time and money to gain relevant tourism related skills in the past 2 years but now find there is no market and they don’t qualify for any support grant. The amount needed would be a tiny fraction of the £ 1.3m provided to Regional DMO’s.
  2. Wider self-employment support - the Minister for Tourism, together with the Minister for Small Businesses (Paul Scully), commit to working with the Treasury to find a solution to run alongside SEISS based on 'who should receive help' rather than 'what is easiest to administer by HMRC' which is the situation today. We certainly do not want to delay SEISS, it is vital for so many small businesses but the Govt is clearly aware that too many people and businesses have not been covered so far.



Question 3 - What will the likely long-term impacts of Covid-19 be on the sector, and what support is needed to deal with those?


Tourism is unlikely to bounce back quickly. Until a vaccine is found and widely deployed we will not see anything like the visitor numbers we have been used to for the past few years.


Some of the different segments of the tourism are likely to come back at different times - this is an approximation of what some timelines could look like:


Phase 1 - rest of 2020 - domestic tourism 


Phase 2 - 1st half of 2021 - international tourism starts to return but smaller groups




Phase 3 - Summer 2021 - international tourism returns inc mass market (even cruises)



As well as looking at this chronologically, there are some themes emerging which provide opportunities and also strongly link back to the Tourism Action Plan / Tourism Sector Deal


  1. Decentralisation 
  2. Encourage / incentivise visitors to come at different times of the year
  3. Focus for now, on high quality, high skilled Tourism experience


  1.                 Invest in skills development to enable this quality tourism experience
  1.                 Renewed focus on domestic tourism



Question 4 - What lessons can be learnt from how DCMS, arms-length bodies and the sector have dealt with Covid-19?


Supply side issues


Demand side issues


Govt support (esp Treasury)


How might the sector evolve after Covid-19, and how can DCMS support such innovation to deal with future challenges?


Recommit to the Tourism Action Plan / Tourism Sector Deal. There are lots of good ideas in there and we now need to move at speed to start implementing them. The following objectives will be especially important as part of the recovery

  1. Spreading visitors out around the country not just London
  2. Spreading visitors over the rest of the year not just the summer peak
  3. Investing in skills development


Look again at the case for light touch regulation, at local level, of Tourist guiding profession, to help attract, reward and retain the quality of professional guides that the UK market needs

Encourage greater use of technology in the Visitor Economy e.g. timed-entry tickets; real-time data that shows length of queues at known bottlenecks (e.g. at Tower of London Jewel House or for shuttles at Stonehenge or on the Tube trains) in order to reroute visits as necessary; mic/radio headsets on coaches to enable social distancing by groups being transported