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October bank holiday backed by culture secretary

A new bank holiday could be created in October to boost domestic tourism and raise an estimated £500 million for the economy.

Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said the additional break was an “excellent proposal” and told the Commons that he was discussing the idea with other ministers.

He said he preferred British holidays to going abroad and promised to put himself “at the forefront of championing the campaign for British tourism”.  “One of the challenges we will have is getting the [tourism] sector up and running as strongly as possible in the summer, and extending it for as long as we can,” he told MPs.

The idea of an extra bank holiday to compensate for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic was proposed last month by Visit Britain, the UK’s tourism agency.

Mr Dowden said today that the government’s target was for the tourism sector to reopen by July 4. He said ministers would be “investing extensively” in a campaign encouraging Britons to book domestic holidays in seaside towns this summer.

The culture secretary added that he and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, were “looking at further measures” to support financially-hit coastal areas before then. Tim Loughton, a former Tory minister, cited research that workers in seaside towns are being laid off faster than in any other part of the country.

Mr Dowden said: “We’re hoping to get tourism back as rapidly as possible, and when it is back we will be investing extensively, ensuring we have a major campaign to encourage British people to take British staycations.”

No 10 confirmed in May that the government was looking at the idea of an extra bank holiday, but warned that it came with “economic costs”.

Visit Britain believes there will be a £15 billion fall in income from overseas visitors to the UK this year, combined with £22 billion from lost domestic tourism.                                                                             (Source:  The Times)