News | Published May 28 2020

Government’s attempts to reinvigorate ‘fun’ economy can go further than extra bank holiday, Universal Rides founder says

Leisure and attractions expert Norman Wallis, the founder of Universal Rides, this week welcomed VisitBritain’s endorsement of a recommendation for adding a new Bank Holiday for the UK in October, but stressed that the government can do more to support the industry going forward.

According to VisitBritain, the measure will be particularly welcome after the country’s enforced shut down amid the Covid-19 pandemic, could boost the economy by £500 million and is likely to drive up leisure spending.

Wallis, whose company runs Southport’s anchor visitor attraction, Pleasureland, said that the timing of the holiday would be critical, for seasonal attractions could only benefit if it came no later than the October half-term.

VisitBritain had projected figures for a British tourism industry worth over £257 billion by 2025 – just under ten per cent of UK GDP and supporting almost 3.8 million jobs – equating to roughly 11 per cent of the total UK number before the pandemic hit.

Wallis highlighted the wider impact of tourism on the economy, driving revenue through its supply chain and generating an impact over and above direct spending levels.

He also said there was room for, and indeed good reason, to go further to help visitor attractions recover, and called for the government to suspend or radically reduce VAT on rides, something that the industry has been lobbying for, for some years.

VisitBritain’s endorsement for the proposed Bank Holiday is based on new findings from the Centre for Economics and Business Research [CEBR] which suggest that a financial shut down for an additional day would have a positive economic impact.

The proposal is now being considered by the government as a means of alleviating the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK.

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
May 28 2020

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