20 March 2024

How to get your tourism business ready for spring: a legal checklist

Sarah Elizabeth Kemp Partner & Head of Tourism and Leisure
Row of mobile caravans

With the Easter break fast approaching, businesses in the leisure and tourism sector can expect to see a sharp rise in visitor numbers. In fact, Visit England anticipates a mammoth year for UK tourism, projecting 39.5 million overseas visitors expecting to spend £34.1 billion in 2024.

With winter nearly in the rear-view, those in the tourism industry will need to prepare for the upcoming seasonal influx. However, it’s important not to overlook your legal obligations while preparing for the season ahead. Taking this approach will help you achieve a sustainable and profitable business for you and for the future.

For English Tourism Week, which is from 15th - 24th March, the head of our tourism and leisure sector, Sarah Kemp, explains the key legal responsibilities you should factor into your planning.

Whether you offer staycations, short breaks, camping, glamping, spa breaks, day trips or outdoor pursuits, here is your legal checklist of crucial considerations…

Secure safe staffing that supports entitlements

If your business experiences an influx of seasonal staff during busier periods, you’ll need to make sure that you comply with employment laws related to temporary or seasonal employment, including having appropriate contracts and payment structures in place.

From factoring in any legal requirements that need to be made to accommodate overseas workers to ensuring no worker exceeds the maximum 48 hours of labour per week, there’s more to planning a rota than meets the eye. Take the time to carefully check that all employment contracts and staff handbooks are up-to-date and compliant with current laws. Pay particular attention to holiday pay entitlements, as these have recently changed and will need to be revised.

Similarly, confirm that staff members have the necessary training and certifications required for their roles, especially in areas such as first aid, lifeguarding, or any specialised activities your business offers. 

Review and renew necessary contracts and policies

Now is the time to review cancellation policies for bookings, terms and conditions of supply, and any customer contracts to protect your business from potential issues as the season ramps up.

If your business collects personal information, update and communicate privacy policies to comply with data protection laws.

Similarly, it’s important to review and renew contracts with suppliers, vendors, and partners. Confirm that all parties understand their obligations and responsibilities and, where circumstances have changed, discuss any potential allowances, discounts, or price increases that may apply.

Holiday park documentation

If you are a holiday park operator, do you have pitch licence agreements in place with private static owners and seasonal tourers? Do they need to be renewed each year before occupiers return?

In the lead-up to a holiday park sale, one of the first things that we as solicitors acting for a prospective buyer will ask to see are the Pitch Licence Agreements for each of the caravan owners on the park. A buyer will want to know that they are promised pitch fees for the future and that, if a caravan owner fails to pay, they can use the agreement to resolve the issue or remove them.

Keeping your Park Rules up to date is also a fundamental part of running a successful holiday park business, and maximising profitability. Well-drafted, appropriate, and legally binding Park Rules will help you to:

  • Run a safe, efficient and welcoming park

  • Prevent, manage, and solve disputes

  • Reduce unwanted behaviour

  • Protect your park from damage

  • Attract the right kind of customers

  • Remove unruly owners

  • Improve profitability

Highlight health and safety concerns

With a rise in footfall, some facilities might see existing signs of wear and tear exacerbated. Similarly, the effects of the winter climate can degrade materials and seriously impact the structural integrity of some buildings - this is especially important to account for areas that are disused during the colder months - such as outdoor patio areas or areas dedicated to outdoor pursuits.

It’s important to conduct a thorough inspection of your facilities, checking for any potential hazards or safety concerns before the doors are opened for the Easter break. Address and rectify any issues found to ensure a safe environment for both staff and customers. 

In the same vein, it’s advised to review and update emergency response plans, including evacuation procedures, first aid protocols, and communication plans. 

Review your budget to ensure financial compliance  

As you’ll know, prices of goods and services can fluctuate wildly, especially in the current economic climate. To ensure you’re offering value for money while not underselling your vital assets, conduct a thorough review of your spring budget, accounting for any seasonal variations in expenses or revenue. 

Plan for marketing, promotions, and any necessary upgrades or repairs. Now is an opportune occasion to explore potential funding opportunities, grants, or finance that may be available to support seasonal initiatives or improvements to your business.

Critically, ensure that your financial records are in order and that they comply with accounting standards. Be prepared for any financial audits or reviews that may arise.

By addressing these key legal areas, your tourism business can navigate the spring season smoothly and maximise the value and profitability of your business for the future.

Here at Wilkin Chapman, our specialist team have extensive experience advising tourism and leisure businesses to help achieve their goals, guiding you through the process from start to finish. If you need legal support with any aspect of running your holiday park or tourism business, please contact our expert tourism and leisure team.

Sarah Elizabeth Kemp, Wilkin Chapman LLP
Need help?

Contact Sarah Elizabeth to discuss this further.

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