As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread globally, ASAP stands resolutely behind lobby group UKHospitality’s call for government action to shore up the industry.

Hospitality is currently Britain’s fourth largest employer, accounting for 3.2 million direct jobs and a further 2.8 million indirect jobs.

UKHospitality’s Kate Nicholls has described Coronavirus as an “existential threat” to the sector, and is calling for a range of strong measures to avert job losses and business failures across tourism. These include suspending business rates for all hospitality businesses, extending Statutory Sick Pay, supporting staff cost shortfalls and discouraging industry suppliers, including landlords, from pursuing businesses for arrears.

While the current situation is unprecedented, and nobody can yet accurately predict the likely long-term effect on the hospitality industry, many of ASAP’s Member organisations are already facing cancelled bookings, falling revenues and an unlikely future if this continues towards the summer.

James Foice, ASAP CEO, says: “Even if consumers still want and need to travel, many countries worldwide are restricting, or even banning, incoming tourism. And while social distancing remains a focus, accommodation businesses and their employees are going to be especially hard hit.

“Many of our Members are comparatively small businesses, they are not global brands as are some hotel chains, and don’t have the security of large cash reserves.

“On a more positive note, the travel industry, and our own growing niche within it, are very resilient, and in the long run we hope to see recovery pick up quickly once the virus is controlled. But in the shorter term, we fear there is just too much to handle individually.”