Official Visitor Website

Tourism sector and Coronavirus updates

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USEFUL LINKS

East of England Destination Development Plan 2021

VisitEngland Business Advice Hub

VisitBritain Covid-19 Consumer Sentiment Survey

Tourism Exchange GB

Government grants and funding for businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk

Visit East of England – Business Survey January 2022

Visit East of England Covid-19 Business Survey December 2020

Visit East of England Covid-19 Business Survey June 2020

Visit East of England Covid-19 Business Survey May 2020

Visit East of England Consumer Sentiment Survey January 2022

Visit East of England Consumer Sentiment Survey March 2021

April 20

Save Future Travel Coalition – Easter/Summer Period booking survey – please complete

The Save Future Travel Coalition, led by ABTA, is running an industry survey which aims to gather data on booking trends for the Easter/summer periods and to assess the latest employment situation. Accurate and reliable data plays an important role in the direction of public policy and therefore your input is very valuable. The survey should take around 10-15 minutes to complete, and you’ll find a link to it here. The survey closes 5pm on Friday 29 April.

Department for Transport launches Great Britain Rail Sale

Offering passengers up to 50% off selected rail tickets, the sale offers passengers significant savings on a range of journeys across the UK, including cross-border journeys with Scotland and Wales. The discount will be available on selected Advance tickets on over 1 million journeys from participating train companies or, Off-Peak tickets as an alternative on some routes. Railcard customers will also be able to save an extra third off a Great British Rail Sale ticket. Customers can find out more by visiting nationalrail.co.uk/railsale.

Visitor Visa fee increases

The Government has increased the cost of visitor visas to the UK. Prices are as follows

  • Visitor visa – standard 6 months increased £5 to £100
  • Visitor visa – 5-year multiple entry increased £15 to £670
  • Visitor visa – long up to 10 years increased £15 to £837

UKinbound issued a strong press statement about the increases stating, ‘The decision to increase visa prices is absolutely tone-deaf.

Government grants for EV charging points

The Government has introduced a new scheme providing grants of up to £350 per electric vehicle charge point socket installed by accommodation businesses. Every business can claim up to 40 grants. This grant is available for B&B’s, campsites, small hotels, and any other accommodation business with less than 250 employees provided that the business is registered with Companies House, has a VAT number, or has a HMRC registration letter.

Levelling Up Fund

London borough councils and district councils in two tier areas in England are eligible to submit bids for the second round of the Levelling Up Fund which was announced in the 2022 Spring Statement. The Levelling Up Fund is designed to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK. The £4.8 billion fund will support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets. Across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (NI), unitary authorities (including metropolitan borough councils). In addition to local authorities, the UK government will accept bids from a range of local applicants in NI, including but not limited to businesses, universities, voluntary and community sector organisations, district councils, the Northern Ireland Executive, and other public sector bodies. The Fund will run until 2024/25. The application window opens on Tuesday 31 May 2022, with a deadline of 12:00 noon on Wednesday 6 July 2022.

UK Shared Prosperity Fund

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) prospectus and supporting documents have been published on gov.uk. UKSPF is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and a significant component of its support for places across the UK. It provides £2.6 billion of new funding for local investment by March 2025, with all areas of the UK receiving an allocation from the Fund via a funding formula rather than a competition. It will help places right across the country deliver enhanced outcomes and recognises that even the most affluent parts of the UK contain pockets of deprivation and need support. The window for the submission of investment plans will run from 30 June 2022 to 1 August 2022.

HMRC and ACAS National Minimum Wage (NMW) Seminars

HMRC and ACAS are holding two webinars for employers about the new NMW rates. It will discuss common minimum wage mistakes made by employers and how businesses can avoid them. They will be answering questions and providing links to further business support. The two one-hour seminars are on 4 and 10 May and you can register for them here.

March 15

The UK Government has announced they will remove the remaining COVID-19 international travel restrictions for all passengers from 4am Friday 18 March.

This means:

  • From 4am 18 March no-one entering UK will need to take tests or complete a passenger locator form
  • Remaining managed hotel quarantine capacity will be fully stood down from the end of March, making the UK one of the first major economies to end all COVID-19 international travel rules
  • Contingency plans to be put in place to manage any future variants of concern (VoCs)
  • People will continue to be able to access their vaccine and recovery records through the NHS COVID Pass to use when travelling overseas.

See the full press release here – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/all-covid-19-travel-restrictions-removed-in-the-uk

March 8

Update from the National Cyber Security Centre

Following Russia’s further violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the National Cyber Security Centre has called on organisations in the UK to bolster their online defences.

The NCSC – which is a part of GCHQ – has urged organisations to follow its guidance on steps to take when the cyber threat is heightened. There is specific support and guidance for organisations of different sizes:

Organisations should also consider adopting Cyber Essentials to help guard against the most common cyber threats and demonstrate a commitment to cyber security.

While the NCSC is not aware of any current specific threats to UK organisations in relation to events in and around Ukraine, there has been an historical pattern of cyber attacks on Ukraine with international consequences.

The guidance encourages organisations to follow actionable steps which reduce the risk of your organisation falling victim to an attack.

We would also encourage you to follow the NCSC’s social media channels: LinkedIn and Twitter for further alerts and updates.

February 21

In a statement in the House of Commons this afternoon Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the UK Government’s plan for living with COVID-19.

The Prime Minister said that the UK Government will continue to work closely with the Devolved Administrations, but the ongoing approach for England will be around four principles, including:

  1. The removal of all domestic restrictions in law.
  • From Thursday, 24 February:
    • The legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test will end. Self-isolation support payments will also end. COVID provisions for Statutory Sick Pay will still be able to be claimed for a further month.
    • Routine contact tracing will end. Fully vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 will no longer be asked to test daily for seven days.
    • The legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate will be removed.
    • Until 1 April, people who test positive will still be advised to stay at home. After April 1 people with Covid-19 symptoms will be advised to exercise personal responsibility.
  • From 1 April:
    • Free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public will end.
    • The UK Government will no longer recommend the use of voluntary COVID19-status certification, although the NHS app will continue to allow people to indicate their vaccination status for international travel.

2 Continuing to protect the most vulnerable with targeted vaccines and treatments.

3 Maintaining resilience: ongoing surveillance, contingency planning and the ability to reintroduce key capabilities such as mass vaccination and testing in an emergency.

4 Securing innovations and opportunities from the COVID-19 response, including investment in life sciences.

A copy of the full plan is available here.

February 1

The government has published their benefits of Brexit document – ‘The Benefits of Brexit: How the UK is taking advantage of leaving the EU

It lists the 50% reduction in air passenger duty in 2023–24 as a benefit to domestic tourism and the Hospitality Strategy as a benefit to inbound tourism, but there is no mention of the Tourism Recovery Plan or the wider benefits of the UK tourism industry.

The benefits of Brexit

January 24

Following the announcement by the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, there are changes to international travel rules for England from 11 February 2022.

  • From 4:00am on 11 February, all testing requirements will be removed for eligible fully vaccinated arrivals into the UK, with only a Passenger Locator Form now required.
  • Arrivals who are not recognised as fully vaccinated will only need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day 2 after they arrive in the UK.
  • The passenger locator form will be simplified shortly, people will need to confirm their vaccination status, travel history and contact details, and people will have an extra day to fill it out before travelling.
  • From 11 February, the UK will recognise vaccine certificates from 16 more countries including Algeria, Cape Verde, China, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macao, Mexico, São Tomé and Principe, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan.
  • Children aged 12-15 in England will be able to prove their vaccination status or proof of prior infection via a digital NHS COVID Pass from 3 February for outbound travel.

January 19

This afternoon Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the measures put in place under Plan B in England will be lifted.

This means:

  • The UK Government is no longer asking people to work from home if they can. People should now talk to their employers to agree arrangements to return to the office.
  • From 27 January: There is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering. The government suggests that people continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where they may come into contact with other people they do not normally meet.
  • From 27 January: Venues and events will no longer be required by law to check visitors’ NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass can still be used on a voluntary basis.
  • From 20 January: Face coverings will no longer be advised for staff and pupils in secondary school and college classrooms. Also from 27 January: Face coverings will no longer be advised for staff and pupils in communal areas of secondary schools, nor for staff in communal areas of primaries.

Some measures still remain, including those on self-isolation. It is still a legal requirement for those who have tested positive for Covid to self-isolate. The self-isolation regulations expire on 24 March; it is not expected that they will be renewed.

Ahead of 24 March the UK Government will set out its long-term strategy for living with COVID-19.

Further information on the changes will be available soon on this page – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do

January 7

From 4am on Friday 7 January 2022 (today), fully vaccinated passengers and under-18s will no longer need to take a pre-departure test or self-isolate on arrival. They will still be required to complete a passenger locator form and take a test on or before day two after arrival. From 9 January 2022 this can be either a lateral flow (LFD) or PCR test. If the lateral flow test is positive, people will be issued a free confirmatory PCR test and will be required to self-isolate. If the PCR test is negative, then the isolation period can end. Individuals who are not deemed as fully vaccinated must complete a passenger locator form, take a pre-departure test, have booked a PCR day two and day eight test package and complete 10 days self-isolation.

January 4 2022

Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant

The grant eligibility is largely the same as previous grants to hospitality and leisure businesses. The key features are:

  • Businesses with a rateable value of up to £15k will get £2,667
  • Businesses with a rateable value above £15k but less than £51k will get £4,000
  • Businesses with a rateable value over £51k will get £6,000
  • Leisure business are defined as a business that provide opportunities, experiences and facilities, in particular for culture, recreation, entertainment, celebratory events and days and nights out
  • Retail businesses, coach tour operators, and tour operators are specifically excluded from the scheme

The list of eligible businesses is:

 Additional Restrictions Grant

The new guidance for the additional £102m ARG funding. It is very similar to the previous guidance. This third top-up is being allocated to councils on a per business basis, as per previous tranches. Some of the key features are:

  • Unlike previous tranches, councils are not allowed to use this new funding for business support activities so all funding must be given to businesses as grants payments.
  • All ARG funding, including this tranche, need to be dispersed by 31 March 2022
  • Businesses must self-certify that they meet all eligibility criteria and Local Authorities must verify the evidence provided as part of prepayment checks
  • Councils are specifically encouraged to provide funding for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care, the travel and tourism sector, including group travel, travel agents and tour operators, coach operators, wedding industries, nightclubs, theatres, events industries, wholesalers, English language schools, breweries, freelance and mobile businesses (including caterers, events, hair, beauty and wedding related businesses), gyms, and other businesses that may have not received other grant funding.
  • There is no restriction on the number of grants a business may receive, subject to subsidy limits.

December 22

Changes to self-isolation rules in England

From today, if people have tested positive or have symptoms, they can stop self-isolating after 7 days instead of 10 days if they get 2 negative lateral flow test results on day 6 and 7 – with tests taken 24 hours apart.

There is no change to the guidance for unvaccinated contacts of positive COVID-19 cases, who are still required to self-isolate for 10 full days after their date of exposure to the virus.

Read the press release.

December 21

The Chancellor has today announced that additional support will be available for businesses who have been impacted by the Omicron variant.

The package of support includes a new grant scheme for businesses in hospitality and leisure, a top up to the Additional Restrictions Grant, the reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and further funding released through the Culture Recovery Fund.

  • Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises
  • More than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available via the Additional Restrictions Grant for local authorities in England to support other businesses. Allocation of this funding will be at local authority discretion and the top up will be prioritised for those local authorities that have distributed the most of their existing allocation
  • Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK. Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be able to apply for reimbursement for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences, for up to 2 weeks per employee. Firms will be eligible for the scheme from today and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.
  • £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund – cultural organisations in England such as theatres, orchestras and museums can apply for support during the winter

The Chancellor has asked HMRC to offer businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in particular the option of a short delay through the Time to Pay arrangement, and payment in instalments, on a case by case basis, as part of this.

Read the press release to find out more.

December 17

Survey – Impact of the move to Plan B and the Omicron variant on the Tourism and Hospitality Sectors

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is assessing the impact of the move to Plan B and the Omicron variant on the Tourism and Hospitality Sectors. The Tourism Alliance have put together a survey with the questions DCMS would like information on in order to build a case for Government intervention. Deadline for completion is Monday 10th January 2021, however the first analysis of results will be undertaken on Monday, so receiving as many responses as possible before then would be greatly appreciated. You can find the survey here.

Isolation requirements and test and trace updated in England
Guidance has now been updated to highlight changes to self-isolation rules for those vaccinated overseas, and to reflect changes to national guidance around daily testing for close contacts. 

From 15 December you are not legally required to self-isolate if you are notified you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and any of the following apply:

  • you’re fully vaccinated
  • you’re below the age of 18 years and 6 months
  • you’ve taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • you’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

If you are aged 5 years and over and have been identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19, but are not legally required to self-isolate, you are strongly advised to:

  • take an LFD test every day for 7 days, or until 10 days since your last contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19 if this is earlier
  • take this daily LFD test before you leave the household for the first time that day

The government have updated their guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services, as well as for shops, branches and other close contact services in accordance with these changes to isolation requirements.

A shortened window for lateral flow tests in Wales

On Wednesday 14 December, Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan informed the Senedd that people using lateral flow tests to qualify for an NHS COVID Pass in Wales must now have a negative test result no older than 24 hours. This tightening of the previous 48-hour window brings Wales in line with the new regulations in England.

 VisitEngland Domestic Sentiment Tracker

VisitEngland’s latest Domestic Sentiment Research has been published. Omicron variant’s first case was announced on 24 November, which was between the November and December waves fieldworks. December fieldwork consequently gathered the fresh reactions and changes in public’s views, attitudes and, relevant for us, intentions to travel. Overall, the views on the current situations became a bit more negative (as would be expected), and confidence in the ability to travel is also lower, due to anticipated restrictions at the time (new travel restrictions announced on the 7 December).

Key take-outs are as follows:

  • The national mood has declined slightly in December, currently at 6.6/10.
  • 29% of UK adults believe the ‘worst has passed’ with regards to Covid-19, which represents and decrease of 6%, since November.
  • Our ‘Appetite for Risk’ score declined slightly by 0.1, and it’s now at 2.8 out of 4. As for individual activities, the largest decreases are in ‘shopping in your local shopping centre’, ‘visiting a busy city centre’ and ‘travelling by public transport’.
  • 51% said they are very/fairly confident they will be able to take a domestic trip by the end of this month, which decreased by 12% compared to November.
  • 32% said they are very/fairly confident they will be able to take an overseas trip by the end of this month, which is representing a decrease of 12%.
  • The majority of January UK trips have already been planned, with around 3 in 10 (29%) already booked.  Generally, overseas trips are likely to be booked closer to the travel date than UK trips.
  • The top three barriers for domestic trips are: 1. Personal finances, 2. Restrictions on travel from government and 3. UK weather.
  • The top three barriers for overseas trips are: 1. Restrictions on travel from government, 2. The risk of quarantine, 3. Personal finances.
  • When asked to compare next 12 months trips intentions to the past 12 months intentions, 31% of UK adults expect to take more domestic trips (Nov: 30%) and 21% expect to take more overseas trips (Nov: 20%).
  • 55% intend to take domestic trip in the next 12 months (Nov: 55%), while 44% intend to take an overseas trip (Nov:41%).

December 8

This afternoon Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a press briefing announcing that England will be moving to plan B, while continuing to work closely with the Devolved Administrations. The measures announced include:

  • The re-introduction of guidance for everyone who can to work from home. This will be introduced from Monday 13 December.
  • From Friday 10 December, face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship. There will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising. For that reason, face masks will not be required in hospitality settings.
  • From Wednesday 15 December (subject to parliamentary approval) the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather, including:
    • Unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people
    • Unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people
    • Any venue with more than 10,000 people.

The NHS Covid Pass can still be obtained with two doses but will be kept under constant review as the boosters roll out. Having considered the evidence since the emergence of Omicron, proof of a negative lateral flow test will also be accepted.

The Prime Minister also outlined as Omicron spreads in the community daily tests for contacts will be introduced instead of isolation. People are being advised to test using a lateral flow device, particularly before entering a high-risk setting involving people they wouldn’t normally come into contact with, or when visiting a vulnerable person. Lateral flow devices remain free of charge and can be collected from local pharmacies.

The government will keep the data under constant review. The regulations are set to expire six weeks after implementation, with a review after three weeks. Guidance on GOV.UK will be updated to reflect these changes in the coming days.

See the press release and a link to Plan B for more information.