Tourism and hospitality businesses across the West Midlands are being encouraged to apply for new VisitEngland industry accreditation to give assurances to visitors as the sector prepares to reopen following the coronavirus outbreak.
VisitEngland’s ‘We’re Good to Go’ consumer mark means that the region’s tourism firms can demonstrate that they are adhering to Government and public health guidance. It shows that they have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked that they have the required processes in place.
The UK-wide scheme – which has involved input from more than 40 industry bodies across the country – is free to join and open to all organisations within the West Midlands’ tourism sector.
Becky Frall, Head of Visitor Attraction for the West Midlands Growth Company, said:
“As more of the West Midlands’ tourism and hospitality venues prepare to unlock their doors, we urge them to register for VisitEngland’s new ‘We’re Good to Go’ accreditation to highlight their commitment to visitors’ health and wellbeing.
“Receiving and displaying this nationally-recognised industry standard will give people the confidence to come back and enjoy the West Midlands’ great attractions, accommodation and food and drink offer. With tourism accounting for one in ten jobs in the region, it will also reassure staff that businesses are operating to the highest level of safety.
“Our tourism partners will reopen when they are ready to do so. We encourage everybody to check our Visit Birmingham and Make it WM websites to see which venues are welcoming back visitors and any additional advice and information during this constantly-changing time.”
To obtain the mark, businesses must complete a self-assessment through the online platform goodtogo.visitbritain.com. It includes a check-list, confirming they have put the necessary processes in place, before receiving certification and the ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark for display in their premises and online. Spot checks will happen throughout the recovery period, as required.
The platform has already received more than 11,000 registrations from tourism businesses across the country.
Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council and member of the West Midlands Regional Board for Tourism, added:
“It is imperative that new and existing visitors feel safe enough to return to the West Midlands, which is famous for the strength, variety and welcome of its tourist attractions.
“The new ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark will give venues the confidence that they have the correct protocols in place, to help them get up and running after a particularly tough period.
“Our renowned attractions – such as the Black Country Living Museum and Dudley Zoo and Castle – have been hit hard. With their success vital to our region’s economic recovery, I have written to the government to ask that we retain our business grants underspend to further support the sector to bounce back.”
The Bear Grylls Adventure, permanently based at the NEC in Solihull, is among the West Midlands venues to have already been awarded the ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark. The venue is part of Merlin Entertainments, which also operates the National SEA LIFE Centre, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and Warwick Castle.
Nick Varney, Chief Executive Officer, Merlin Entertainments, said:
“We look forward to welcoming guests from across the UK back to our sites, just as we have done successfully across Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.
“In each location, we have seen our guests embrace the ‘new normal’ and actively adhere to the new safety measures we have put in place. After the extended lockdown, we recognise that people need leisure and escapism and to make new happy memories with those they love. We look forward to helping them do just that.”
The West Midlands’ international competitiveness is highlighted as one of the 10 priority areas for a post-COVID economic recovery plan. Regional leaders have reinforced the need to restore confidence in the tourism and hospitality sector in order to successfully reset, rebuild and reinvent the region as part of long-term growth plans.