THE Government is considering an extra bank holiday in October to help tourism in the UK.

The British tourist industry is likely to lose billions because of the coronavirus pandemic, sector leaders have said as they spoke of a lack of confidence among people even when it comes to travel within the UK.

'2020 has to be the year of domestic tourism'

Patricia Yates, acting chief executive at Visit Britain, said 2020 has to be the 'year of domestic tourism' but there will be a serious challenge in convincing people it is safe to travel.

She told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee an October bank holiday could help to extend the season beyond the usual summer months, saying the industry had lost the benefit of the two May bank holidays due to the lockdown.

As it stands there are only two bank holidays before Christmas - this Monday and August bank holiday.

She said: "Really to get British tourism up and running this summer, and the summer is hugely important, you're going to need that domestic audience. I think the worrying thing we see is the lack of confidence in the British public about travelling."

She said there is a "a real job to be done there in convincing people that it's socially responsible to travel and enjoy a holiday, and that it's safe to do so".

She added that Government leadership is required for the message to switch from telling people to stay at home to encouraging visitors.

Specific assistance is needed for seasonal tourism businesses that earn their money between March and October, she said, suggesting they are looking at "three winters in a row".

National Trust estimate to lose £200 million this year

Hilary McGrady, director general of the National Trust, said since closing all its properties on March 20, the estimated impact of Covid-19 "is going to be in the region of about £200 million to the trust this year".

While she said the parks and gardens will be first to reopen, National Trust houses are unlikely to reopen before late August.

What has Downing Street said?

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the Government will respond to the bank holiday proposal "in due course" but added that extra bank holidays "come with economic costs".