An Inhospitable Environment: Covid-19 and the future of the UK’s leisure and hospitality industries

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The Covid-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on every sector of the UK economy. The need to restrict movement and limit social interaction has changed the working life of almost every employee in the UK. However, the impact is not equal; some sectors are able to continue operating much as before; but for others, the current situation poses an existential threat to their business model, none more so than leisure and hospitality businesses.

Leisure and hospitality businesses that rely on face to face contact, travel and large gatherings of people in enclosed spaces have seen their sources of revenue disappear almost overnight. This impact of Covid-19 has been immediate and felt acutely across the four nations of the UK. Tourism – an industry of particular importance to comparatively deprived coastal and rural communities – has been devastated. The support offered by the Government is generous in scope but largely sector agnostic. Although the challenges facing leisure and hospitality may ostensibly resemble those facing other sectors, they are in fact far greater, and will persist for much longer.

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