Survey carried out by Marketing Liverpool reveals 80% of local people are keen to start visiting restaurants and other attractions as we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown. Tony McDonough reports
A new survey reveals 80% of people across the Liverpool city region can’t wait to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown and start visiting shops, restaurants and cultural venues.
However, the study carried out by Marketing Liverpool also found almost half of those who responded were “anxious” about the risk of catching the virus while out and about near other people.
Marketing Liverpool undertook the research on behalf of Liverpool Visitor Economy Network (LVEN) to understand how local residents feel about visiting restaurants, retail, cultural venues and visitor attractions as lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted.
This will come as welcome news to Merseyside’s battered hospitality sector with many restaurants bars and cafes saying they may struggle to survive the crisis. Liverpool City Council has launched a project to help restaurants manage social distancing.
One of the first destinations in the UK to undertake such research, Marketing Liverpool conducted the survey aimed at local residents along with two virtual focus groups. The resulting insights will help support the city’s recovery plans.
In all, 2,322 people took part in the survey, 75% of whom came from Liverpool city region postcodes with females and those over 35 being the most prominent responders.
The overwhelming majority said that restaurants would be one of the first places they would visit with 68% of people saying they would visit them within the first six weeks of them being open, a timeframe which is considerably shorter than national research.
With health still being the most important factor to consider, over 80% of people said they would welcome some sort of national accreditation scheme to prove a venue is following official Government guidelines and procedures.
Limits on customer numbers, regular cleaning, social distancing rules and hand sanitiser stations all came out as crucial elements for when venues open for customers.
Of those surveyed, around half are looking forward to visiting the city’s visitor attractions with 60% eagerly awaiting being able to return to the city region’s cultural venues. Almost half of the respondents who took part in the survey said they would be using public transport (train or bus) to rediscover the city’s visitor economy.
Donna Howitt, chair of LVEN marketing group said: “the results of the survey help to provide a real optimism for businesses and attractions that rely on the visitor economy. While safety must remain of paramount importance, we look forward to rebuilding visitor numbers, starting with local audiences who play an important role in getting their region back on its feet.”
The virtual focus groups revealed that people were looking forward to returning to a whole host of venues and locations with the iconic waterfront and cathedrals two of the most popular options – shortly followed by the hairdressers.
Chris Brown, director of Marketing Liverpool, explained how they will use the results of the research to form the basis of their future work: “Liverpool is and will continue to be a very popular tourist destination.
“In recent months we have shifted our work from promotion to supporting the hospitality and tourism sector during what continues to be a very difficult and challenging period. Health will always be our number one priority but as we move slowly out of lockdown and the city begins to reopen it’s crucial that we understand exactly how our local residents feel.
“These will be some of the very first people to use our visitor economy and their opinions will help form our campaigns and work for months to come.”