Oliver Dowden said he will be “vigorously championing UK holidays” and pushing for staycations over foreign trips when lockdown restrictions ease up. He added the Government is aiming to reopen tourism in England by July 4. Mr Dowden also said Chancellor Rishi Sunak is “looking at further measures” to boost the ailing sector, especially in the seaside and coastal areas.
Mr Dowden said: “I much prefer British holidays to holidays overseas.
“I’m working closely with my colleague the Chancellor and we will be looking at further measures.
“And of course once the sector is ready to go I’ll be at the forefront of championing the campaign for British tourism.
“We have set this very ambitious target to try and get the sector back by July 4, so long as it is safe to do so. I am working to make that a reality.”
The Culture Secretary also announced the Government will be “investing extensively” in a major campaign to promote holidays to British seaside towns after the lockdown measures are further relaxed. He added: “We’re hoping to get tourism back as rapidly as possible, and when it is back we will be investing extensively, ensuring we have a major campaign to encourage British people to take British staycations.”
It comes as Patricia Yates, director of national tourism agency VisitBritain, said the industry is preparing to open in early July.
She called upon ministers to back a major campaign reassuring the public it is safe to take a domestic holiday.
She said: “While the tourism industry is likely not to reopen in England until early July the sector is working very hard getting prepared to welcome visitors back. We are working with the Government to ensure that tourism can recover as quickly as possible once restrictions are lifted, and to save as much of the valuable summer season as we can and extend the tourism season into October and beyond.
“Alongside this, and following Government guidelines, we would also like to see a major domestic campaign, when restrictions are lifted and we can holiday at home again, give reassurance to us all that it is socially responsible to travel.”
Regional tourism chiefs have been preparing for the industry reopening.
Visit Cornwall’s Malcolm Bell said: “We are gearing up for July 4. We’re telling as many businesses as possible to be ready for that date.”
But James Mason, from Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “While we want to welcome visitors, it’s not yet safe to do so.
Many businesses aren’t open and they are not yet prepared to be Covid safe.”
A survey has revealed that 40 per cent of Britons are planning a staycation this year, with caravan holidays set to enjoy a boom.
The study of 2,000 adults by Auto Trader found that adverts for caravans have increased in the past year.
And ads for people seeking motorhomes have risen by 17 percent, when compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, Spain’s tourism minister Maria Reyes Maroto said she wants British tourists to “come back as soon as they can”.
But she warned much will depend on the UK’s 14-day quarantine period for returning travellers which comes into effect on Monday.
She said: “We’re in touch with British authorities and tour operators. What’s really limiting movement right now are the restrictions from the Foreign Office.”