A new UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark has been launched to provide confidence in the tourism sector as it works towards reopening.

The ‘We’re Good To Go’ scheme is being operated by national tourism agency VisitEngland with the support of local destination marketing organisations. The free to join industry standard and supporting mark allows businesses to demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment and have the required processes in place.

The launch comes on the back of the news that many tourism businesses will be able to open their doors again on 4 July with new guidance in place to ensure safety. This guidance includes social distancing of at least 1m, limiting capacity in venues and cleanliness protocols.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) is urging North East tourism businesses to join the scheme and show visitors that the region is ready to welcome them back. Chief Executive Sarah Green said: “This new industry standard will give consumers the confidence to go out again and enjoy all the amazing tourism businesses we have in the North East. We’re encouraging as many businesses as possible working in the visitor economy to get the new standard, display the mark and show that the region is ‘good to go’.

“We’re looking forward to bringing people into the region at a sustainable level for the city and considering both the needs of our residents, visitors and those who work in the sector. We are in a strong position to be able to offer our visitors a safe and welcoming experience and we will be working with partners across the region on promoting everything that we have to offer here in the North East.

“Now, more than ever, we need the support of the community to help our local businesses. In the first instance it will be our local residents who start visiting our attractions, bars and restaurants again, and we hope that they will then become advocates and offer the reassurance to other visitors of their experience.”

One tourism business that has welcomed the standard, and has already signed up, is tour operator Iles Tours. Founder Alex Iles said: “It was a quick, straightforward application that also helped highlight what needs to happen to keep customers safe in the tourism industry as the country comes out of lockdown.”

The tourism industry has been one of the worst affected by coronavirus. By the time of reopening on 4 July the industry will have already seen direct losses of more than £1.4bn, with a further £448m lost to the regional economy from the supply chain and spending from those employed in the sector.*

Sarah added: “The tourism sector has been one of the worst affected by Covid-19, with over 70 per cent of the businesses we have spoken to telling us that even after easing of restrictions they will still have to make redundancies. The sector works as an ecosystem and unfortunately losing businesses or capacity has a disproportionate impact on the attractiveness of a visit to the North East.

“While it is great news that these businesses will now be able to reopen their doors for the first time in months, most of them will initially be working with lower capacities and therefore reduced income levels. It is crucial that the industry continues to receive ongoing support after reopening.”

As part of a series of business support webinars that NGI is running, the North East was the first region to hold a webinar around the new industry standard and guidance on Wednesday with representatives from VisitBritain.

To obtain the ‘We’re Good To Go’ mark businesses must complete a self-assessment through an online platform, including a checklist confirming they have put the necessary processes in place, before receiving certification and the mark for display in their premises and online.

Once signed-up to the standard, an alert system will ensure that businesses are notified of any changes to the official guidance. A call-handling service provides support and assessors will also carry-out random spot-checks to ensure adherence.

For more information on the ‘We’re Good To Go’ and how to apply visit https://goodtogo.visitbritain.com/