The First Minister acknowledged that “the wider tourism industry is keen to reopen and to salvage some of this summer’s season,” but Welsh holiday businesses and their customers both need more certainty and parity with other parts of the UK.
“The prospect of a July business opening may be a great relief for some Welsh rural holiday businesses. But, welcome as it is, the First Minister’s signal for self-catering accommodation to prepare to re-open in three-weeks’ time – still leaves sufficient doubt to subdue recovery in the wider sector, while in England tourism begins to pick-up. Equally, the ongoing local travel restriction continues to hinder rural businesses activity,” says Nigel Hollett, CLA Cymru Director.
“Tackling the pandemic and safeguarding us all from further outbreaks is an understandable priority,” Mr Hollett adds. “But we’re learning that we have to take on the challenges of fighting the virus and fighting for the economy at the same time. The inconsistencies between England and Wales are causing confusion and mounting frustration as travel restrictions and ongoing uncertainty still subdues the Welsh economic recovery.”
“From the perspective of the rural tourism business, July’s approaching – the spring season’s already lost. Time’s running out for camping, holiday lets and B&B businesses to recoup losses and generate bookings for the rest of the holiday season.” Mr Hollett says: “Welsh rural tourism businesses need all the help they can get to revive their businesses – short-term and long-term. Many of these businesses are farms and they’ve seen severe disruption in their markets while working-on in crisis conditions.”
“Incremental easement of restrictions may be pleasing, but a strategy for recovery is needed now – which focuses on severely affected sectors, restores confidence for investment, and which meets clearly identified targets.”
“Encouraged by Government, many farms and rural landowners have diversified into tourism. These are among the hardest-hit by the pandemic restrictions,” Nigel Hollett explains. “The CLA has used the lockdown period to speak directly to hundreds of members to ask them how they are faring – and what help they need most.”
“Our membership-contact campaign has revealed the extent and intensity of the impact of the crisis on rural businesses. We have assisted many tourism-diversified farm businesses in applying for the Welsh Government’s emergency resilience funding. We’ve been able to ensure their eligibility for support and for many this has been a lifeline.”
Nigel Hollett adds, “The promise of review tells us that the crisis is not over. The prospect of being open for business again may not be enough to save some rural businesses.