Tourism and hospitality leaders launch Covid-19 support and recovery plan

A tourism, hospitality and leisure support and recovery plan has been launched to help Greater Manchester’s sector navigate through lockdown before rebuilding following the severe impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Marketing Manchester, part of the Growth Company and the region’s destination management organisation (DMO), which promotes Greater Manchester to a global audience as a place to visit, invest, meet and study, has developed a plan with eight areas of focus.

The plan has been shaped and approved in partnership with the Tourism Industry Economic Recovery (TIER) group, which is comprised of leading voices across the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector including culture, aviation, transport, sport, conferencing, hotels, food and drink and retail.

It outlines three areas that Marketing Manchester and its partners have been, and will continue to deliver: providing a regular programme of business advice and information to support businesses across GM; lobbying for continued Government support; and raising the profile of Greater Manchester’s tourism, hospitality and leisure sector at a national level to make sure its voice is heard.

When the time is right to move towards recovery, the plan prioritises an additional five areas of focus: rebuilding consumer confidence in, and the profile of, Greater Manchester; rebuilding the region’s international profile and connectivity; building back the business visits and events (conferencing) sector; better demonstrating how the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector can support Greater Manchester’s wider strategic objectives; and seeking consensus for a more sustainable structure for DMOs like Marketing Manchester, to ensure businesses continue to benefit from their support and activity.

The plan was launched at a special webinar today featuring speakers from Marketing Manchester, including Managing Director Sheona Southern and Director of Tourism Nick Brooks-Sykes, as well as guests including Elise Wilson, leader of Stockport Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA’s) Economy portfolio lead, Hilary Centeleghe, Growth and Startup Lead at Business Growth Hub, and David Martin, Head of Tourism Sponsorship and Strategy at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.


The tourism, hospitality and leisure sector has been severely disrupted by Covid-19, with 61% of its £9 billion annual economic value estimated to be lost this year alone, with major consequences for businesses and the 100,000 people employed in the sector across Greater Manchester.

Additional lockdown measures in November and a combination of other factors are having a further impact on the highly vulnerable sector: a lack of high spending business and international visitors; conferences, major concerts, events and sporting fixtures being unable to go ahead; several months of local lockdown restrictions; and Government rulings such as the 10pm curfew on hospitality businesses.

Earlier this year Marketing Manchester and GC Employment, also part of the Growth Company, launched the Tourism and Hospitality Talent Hub, a resource providing training, recruitment and support for people whose work has been impacted by the pandemic.

Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, said: “As the UK emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and faces a new global positioning outside the EU, in places like Greater Manchester there are still significant obstacles for the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector to overcome before we can work towards recovery.

“This support and recovery plan acknowledges the precarious situation that we continue to find ourselves in here in Greater Manchester. The plan therefore does not over promise, but rather sets out what we have been doing and will continue to do for the sector right now, as well as outlining a roadmap for how we can recover to previous levels and be best placed to compete globally for sustained growth, when the time is right.

Mike Blackburn, Chair of GM’s Internationalisation & Advisory Board and Chair at Marketing Manchester, added: “There has been a great deal of rhetoric about the importance of the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector in recent months, and rightly so – the sector is worth up to £9 billion to Greater Manchester’s economy in normal times and it is estimated that in excess of 60% of that value has been lost in 2020 due to Covid-19.

“The sector has been devastated and there is a great deal of work to do. It is therefore imperative that we work together in cross-sector partnership to get behind this plan in order to support businesses throughout the tough winter months so that they are in the best possible shape to recover quickly, efficiently and securely when that time comes. It is heartening to see businesses across Greater Manchester already beginning to add their support.”

To view the full plan, Tourism, hospitality and leisure support and recovery plan for Greater Manchester: leading the industry through crisis and driving recovery, please click here.


Supporting quotes from TIER group members:

Vaughan Allen, Chief Executive of CityCo Manchester (The City Centre Management Company), said: “CityCo continues to work with businesses and public partners to support plans for the city centre’s economy recovery, of which tourism, hospitality and leisure plays a crucial part. We are working closely with hotels, attractions, cultural venues, retailers and restaurants to ensure businesses are supported, and campaigns are developed at the right time to promote Manchester as a safe, welcoming and vibrant place to visit.”

Adrian Ellis, Chair of Manchester Hoteliers Association, said: “Hotels across the region have suffered huge financial losses as a result of the national lockdown, and uncertainty remains over the second lockdown and how reduced international visitor numbers will affect the industry. Rebuilding the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector is vital for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the accommodation sector and will supply confidence to the new hotels currently under construction across Greater Manchester.”

Julia Fawcett OBE, chief executive of The Lowry, said: “We’re preparing for a phased re-opening of our building following seven months of forced closure – during which time we moved entirely online in terms of the delivery of our artistic and engagement activity. Our galleries will re-open at weekends from 5 December and the first live indoor performances will take place – socially distanced – from 4 December. It has been an incredibly difficult task preparing the business to recommence operations without knowing – understandably, given the changing nature of the pandemic – the exact dates on which the sector will move through the DCMS 5-step roadmap to recovery. The visitor economy is far too big a contributor to the success of Greater Manchester for it to be allowed to fail. Now is the time to find creative solutions to adapt the industry model for the new normal.”

Daniel Gidney, Chief Executive of Lancashire Cricket, said: “Lancashire Cricket is proud to be working with our local partners to launch this recovery plan aimed at ensuring Greater Manchester is in a position to bounce back as quickly as possible from this devastating period. Like all other businesses in the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector, we are desperate to welcome fans and corporate delegates back at Emirates Old Trafford at the earliest opportunity whether that be for cricket, conferences and events or live music.

“We are grateful to have hosted the first international sport anywhere in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic at Emirates Old Trafford for England Cricket’s internationals in a behind-closed-doors, bio-secure environment this summer and we have taken every opportunity to share the invaluable experience, knowledge and best practice we gained with other business operators in the industry and the wider community. Through our dedicated ‘Safe in One Place’ campaign we will continue to do all we can to support the sector and rebuild consumer confidence in Greater Manchester as a world-class destination.”

Thom Hetherington, CEO of the Northern Restaurant and Bar, said: “Restaurants and bars have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic, with low diner confidence and reduced bookings resulting in a significant loss of earnings, and the added future uncertainty ahead for operators as we endure a second lockdown. Setting out a plan for how we can recover from this crisis is a crucial step towards rebuilding the sector, whilst also helping businesses through the myriad of challenges that lie ahead.”

Shaun Hinds, Chief Executive at Manchester Central, said: “The re-starting of organised, business events is absolutely critical to our local and national economic recovery but the latest restrictions imposed by the government mean that, as an industry, we are facing a real time of crisis. Collaboration with our city partners, as part of the TIER framework, is absolutely key to paving the way for our sector to return in a sustainable way; harnessing new opportunities that will contribute to Greater Manchester’s long-term prosperity.”

Sally MacDonald, Director of the Science and Industry Museum and Chair of the Manchester Museums and Galleries Recovery Group, said: “We have worked hard to welcome thousands of visitors safely back to our world-renowned museums and galleries in the three months prior to having to close again. While we look forward to opening the doors of our museums and galleries again as soon as we can, Greater Manchester’s vital cultural, leisure, tourism and hospitality ecosystem encompasses many other venues and sectors across the city. This strategy will help contribute to our sustainable future.”

Dave Moutrey, Director and Chief Executive of HOME, said: “Our arts galleries, museums, theatres and concert venues are not only important to our residents but also play a vital role in attracting visitors to Greater Manchester and as such are a vital source of economic activity. In addition to the direct jobs in our cultural organisations the cultural sector has a very positive impact on hospitality, transport and retail which is why this plan is important.”