BOSSES of Warwickshire’s top heritage sites say the lifting of Covid testing for double-vaccinated tourists at UK airports is a ‘welcome boost’.
The requirement to take a lateral flow test on arrival into the country ended on Friday – February 11 – for those fully vaccinated.
William Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon attracted up to three million visitors annually pre-pandemic, so tourism was hit hard by lockdown.
Rachael Boyd, from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – the charity which cares for the bard’s five historic family homes – said: “The lifting of travel restrictions is great news for the UK inbound tourism sector and certainly a welcome boost for Stratford, which has always been a popular destination with international visitors wanting to experience Shakespeare’s historic hometown.
“While it may take a while to recover to pre-pandemic levels, it’s encouraging to see growing visitor confidence and this is apparent with the steady influx of advance bookings to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, particularly from North America.
“In light of this we’re extending our opening hours to seven days a week and for a longer season, ready to welcome our visitors once again.”
Hospitality in the town has also been hugely affected. The Eden Hotel Collection owns a portfolio of boutique hotels in the Midlands and South West including The Arden Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Mallory Court in Leamington Spa.
Managing director Mark Chambers of boutique hotel chain The Eden Hotel Collection welcomed the news but said Eden hotels in Warwickshire were yet to see any significant uptake in business and that it would take more time.
He added while the UK is opening its borders, people may not be able to travel out of their own country easily due to regulations still in place.
CEO of Shakespeare’s England, the destination management organisation for South Warwickshire, Helen Peters said: “This relaxation is long-awaited and very welcome. As a result, South Warwickshire is likely to see an influx of visitors and it comes just as more than £200million is being invested across Coventry and Warwickshire to cement the region as a leading destination for national and international business tourism.
“This comes as a result of Coventry being UK City of Culture and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, with Games venues situated in Coventry and Warwickshire.
“Coventry Building Society Arena, the region’s largest venue, is currently undergoing a £3.8 million transformation, which will see the creation of the Commonwealth Convention Centre at the site. This joins the recently completed £5.5 million fully-funded redevelopment project at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry.”