Information for Tourism Businesses on Covid-19

We’re closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as it develops to ensure we are in the best position to work with the Government and other key partners to support businesses as effectively as possible. 

As it becomes available, this website will be updated with the latest information and advice to support tourism businesses at this extremely difficult time. On this page you can find information on:

Situation update: correct as of 17.00 3 April 2020 

Latest Government advice and links



Updates to Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to ease liquidity for SMES and a new scheme for larger companies.


  • The Chancellor has today announced the extension of the CBILS to ensure all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, rather than just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time.
  • The Government has also announced it will be stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000, and will be making changes to speed up approvals.
  • The Government will continue to cover the first 12 months of interest fees.
  • A new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.


The full announcement can be read here, we will share any further information and updates on these schemes as they become available.



Update on Business rates relief for the hospitality and leisure sector


Further to the guidance published earlier this week on business rate relief the Local Government Association and the Tourism Alliance have identified some tourism businesses that are not explicitly mentioned in the guidance, but it is felt that they fall into the intended category. Councils are being asked to give consideration to the premises listed below for inclusion in their local schemes:

  • Conference and Exhibition venues
  • Travel and Tour Operators
  • Tourism Information Centres
  • Tourism Boards/Destination Management Organisations
  • Coach operators
  • Amusement Arcades
  • English Language Schools
  • Travel/Hospitality Industry Charities (offices)
  • Vehicle Rental Sites
  • Marinas/Boat Hire/Passenger Boat Facilities

Other travel measures, advice and updates


  • As a result of the significant decline in flying, British Airways is making use of the UK’s COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme to help UK-based employees placed on furlough. The scheme will be applied to for 30,000+ cabin crew and ground-based employees in April and May. 

Situation update 3 April 2020

Local Transport Information

Southeastern update

Southeastern is working to support efforts to delay the spread of coronavirus and to keep their train services running for essential travel.
From Monday 23rd March a reduced timetable will be introduced until further notice to ensure that vital train services for key workers can keep running throughout a prolonged coronavirus outbreak. Wherever possible they will ensure that early morning and late evening services remain in timetables so that key workers like nurses, police officers and firefighters can get to work.

All their stations will remain open, and on some routes passengers may need to change trains to complete their journeys.
Passengers should check before they travel using online journey planners and the amended timetable will be available in online journey planners by Sunday 22 March.

A map of the planned service can be found on their website.


School services
In light of the planned school closures, Stagecoach is making some adjustments to their services from Monday 23rd March. They will operate a normal school holiday service on all routes in Kent and East Sussex. However, they will review this on a daily basis to identify any extra journey requirements and be ready to make adjustments as required.

M2 - Stagecoach Express
From 28th March the section of the route between Chatham Maritime and London (North Greenwich ) will cease to operate. Between 29th March and 22 May, the route will only operate between Canterbury and Chatham Waterfront Bus Station, serving all listed stops in-between. The last day of operation for the route will be Friday 22nd May 2020.

More information can be found on their website.


Emergency timetables will be introduced on many Arriva services in Kent and Surrey from Monday 23 March 2020.

More information can be found on their website. 

Accommodation Guidance

Following the Prime Minister's announcement on 22nd March outlining further steps to tackle the spread of COVID-19, businesses providing holiday accommodation should now take steps to close for commercial use as quickly as is safely possible. Full consideration should be given to the possible exclusions for residents that should be allowed to remain. Any decision to close should be implemented in full compliance with the social distancing guidelines.

  • The guidance on the closure of all non-essential businesses and premises applies to any business providing holiday accommodation including short-term lets such as hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, boarding houses and caravan sites.
  • The Government has also issued further guidance and advice for those providing hotel and other accommodation in the UK. An exception has been made for key workers, who can continue to stay in hotels or similar where required, and for people living in these premises as interim abodes whilst their primary residence is unavailable. Where people live permanently in caravan parks, or are staying in caravan parks as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available, they may also continue to do so.
  • Hotels and accommodation providers that are remaining open to house key workers, vulnerable groups and other exempted groups will still be able to serve food, subject to the social distancing guidelines (for example by providing a takeaway service, ‘grab and go’ service or room service).
  • Where hotels, hostels, and B&Bs are providing rooms to support homeless people, through arrangements with local authorities and other public bodies, they should remain open.
  • Those attending a funeral will be able to use hotels when returning home would be impractical.
  • Hotels are allowed to host blood donation sessions.

Read more

A Letter from the Minister for Local Government and Homelessness, Luke Hall, to hotel chief executives regarding the exemption for hotels, hostels and B&Bs to open so as to offer accommodation to support key workers and vulnerable people was sent on 24 March.

Further useful guidance and advice to ensure the safety of your staff and guests can be found here:

Guidance for businesses offering takeaway or delivery

Temporary measures so that pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways to serve people having to stay at home:

  • Relaxation of planning measures will be introduced as soon as possible and will apply for a limited period 
  • Currently planning permission is required for businesses to carry out this change
  • The measures will apply to hot food and drinks. Serving alcoholic drinks will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws.
  • Permitted development rights allow movement between one use class and another for example from a restaurant (A3) to a shop (A1) without planning permission.
  • The government will introduce a time-limited development right through secondary legislation (negative SI) to allow the temporary change of use of a pub (A4 - drinking establishment) and a restaurant (A3 - restaurants and cafes) to a hot-food take away for a period of up to 12 months
  • Businesses will need to let local planning teams know when this starts and ends.

Further advice for food businesses is available here. Specifically around takeaways and businesses offering a pick up service it advises:

  • no orders should be taken in person on the premises - this should be communicated to customers by appropriate means such as signage
  • businesses should therefore only take orders online or by telephone
  • customers could have staggered collection times - customers should be discouraged from entering the premises until their order is ready
  • customers arriving without having already placed an order should be encouraged to leave the premises to place their order by telephone or online, and to return at a designated time for collection
  • customers whose orders are ready should enter one at a time to collect orders and make payments
  • businesses should discourage crowding outside the premises. Where possible, use queue management systems to maintain the 2 metres separation

Read more

Sector Representation and Monitoring

Visit Kent sits on the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group (TIER) which currently holds weekly dial-in meetings with Government. This provides an important conduit for information from Government but also an opportunity to feed in performance and impact data directly to Ministers.

To feed into this group, we are tracking the impact on the sector by monitoring closures, cancellations, reduction in footfall and forward bookings. Thank you to everyone who has been providing data to the team about this, please continue to send any relevant business updates to We are also monitoring performance through our monthly business barometer which you can sign up to here.

You can read the statement we issued on 17th March 2020 here.

VisitBritain/VisitEngland has modified and reopened their COVID-19 tourism industry impact survey, they will be conducting it regularly to monitor the impact on all aspects of the UK tourism industry. The results will provide impact data to brief Ministers, the Government and COBR to help support the industry through these challenging times. Please circulate the survey to your members. The survey will close 17.00 Monday 30 March.

Financial Support for Businesses

Tourism and hospitality businesses have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak and Visit Kent, along with colleagues from across the tourism and hospitality sector, have been ensuring that the impact on the sector and needs of our businesses are effectively communicated to Government to support our vital sector, to preserve jobs, the economy and future growth. In response, the Chancellor announced a package of measures, the headlines of which are set out in detail on our coronavirus business funding and support for tourism businesses page.

We will update this page with the latest information on how to access the funding and financial support announced by government and other organisations.

Other useful resources

In addition to this, we are also collating any other useful resources and information for businesses to access including free webinars, advice and training offered by other organisations.

You can find these resources and links here.

Communicating with businesses

Although the Visit Kent team are now working remotely, we will be increasing the number of communications going out to businesses and continuing with meetings, forums and events virtually by video conferencing, webinars and videos. You can still contact any member of the team by email or phone but for general enquiries, please contact

We have also launched a new Linkedin Forum for Kent tourism and hospitality businesses to share updates, ask questions and support each other. Anyone can request to join here.

Keep in touch by:

  • Checking updates on this page which will be updated regularly
  • Looking out for our regular newsletters. If you're not receiving our emails you can sign up here
  • Joining our new Linkedin group
  • Following us on Twitter
  • Following us on Linkedin

Visit Kent consumer messaging

During this time, the Visit Kent consumer channels will also shift in tone to ensure our content is in line with the Government's social distancing guidelines but continues to showcase the county and fantastic businesses. Over the coming weeks we will focus on supporting local businesses, local heroes, positive community stories and inspiring content.

This does mean the majority of the features we had originally planned for Q2 may now be postponed or cancelled. Where possible, we will try to use content you have already submitted, but please do bear with us on this. With this in mind, we need information from you that we can use to swiftly create new features in order to continue engagement with our county, both virtually and locally. 

As usual, please submit all content ideas to As we need to pull this content together very quickly, you will see some tight deadlines below, but we will continue to monitor the above email address and add in content beyond these deadlines, where possible.

Please also feel free to share this call out with other businesses within your area, as we hope to support as many local businesses as possible. 

  • Kent businesses going the extra mile. Are you offering vouchers, takeaways or deliveries to people’s doors? Tell us about them. Deadline – 26th March
  • Local produce - Our followers still want to support their local suppliers. So whether you are remaining open and observing the government’s guidelines, are a supplier to a business that is, or you are doing deliveries to your customers’ doors, tell us about it. Deadline - 26th March
  • Local heroes – tell us about the true heroes in your community who are doing all they can to brighten spirits. Whether it’s someone with a great Instagram account to follow, or they’re going out of their way to serve their customers, let us know. Deadline – 30th March
  • Gift ideas – over the coming weeks our followers will be celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, so do you have a good gift idea? A voucher that can be used at a later date, that you’d like us to promote, or a special birthday hamper that can be delivered to their door? Deadline – 6th April

You can read the statement we made to consumers on 16th March 2020 here.

ALVA press release

ALVA have issued a positive press release highlighting how ‘The UK’s top visitor attractions may be closed but they’re open online to the world, millions of online visitors are creating their own ‘UK tourism must-visit list’ of places to visit when attractions re-open their doors.’ Follow the link to read more

Join VisitBritain/VisitEngland’s marketing response

VisitBritain/VisitEngland has launched a social marketing campaign to keep Britain top of visitors’ minds during international and UK travel bans. The campaign aims to share inspirational content based on popular British culture such as recipes, TV and film shows, literature and more, for people to enjoy in their own homes. Find out how to get involved

Kent Big Weekend

We don’t want to cancel the Big Weekend; however, we also have the safety of the public and your businesses at the forefront of our minds. 

As it currently stands, we will be suspending the actual ticket draw until we have a clearer picture of any further restrictions the government puts in place and the wider impact of these measures across the industry. We will keep the registration and entry for the public open until the end of April at the very least.

To maximise the benefit that the Big Weekend campaign offers we will be adjusting the tickets in this year’s ballot to extend the redemption period to the end of 2020 (whilst maintaining the status as single use only). We hope that this will provide an opportunity for the consumers to have something to look forward to and to re-engage them with those venues who have been affected by COVID-19.

We appreciate that you may want to adjust your offer, amend the terms of redemption or add particular exclusions, please submit any changes to by Wednesday 25th March, if we do not hear from you we will assume that you are able to provide the current ticket offer and that you are able to accept redemption anytime up to the end of the year. Of course, if you decide that you need to withdraw from the campaign please let us know by emailing