Brecon and Radnorshire’s tourism businesses badly need to be prioritised by the Welsh Government, according to Fay Jones MP.
Speaking after chairing a meeting of local tourism businesses, Miss Jones is urging the Welsh Government to urgently publish its roadmap out of the Coronavirus pandemic, providing rural businesses with the clarity they need for the future.
During the roundtable, Miss Jones was joined by representatives from Mid Wales Tourism, Brecon Beacons Tourism and businesses from across Brecon and Radnorshire. Throughout the pandemic, Miss Jones has been meeting regularly with the tourism industry – one of biggest impacted sectors by coronavirus.
The Welsh tourism sector has been heavily impacted by COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions. Businesses have had to contend with extended periods of closure, and even when they have been allowed to open, visitor numbers have been lower and additional costs have been incurred by businesses to put in place social distancing measures. Around half of the tourism businesses surveyed by the Wales Tourism Alliance fear they might not survive the next six months.
Concerns were raised that the variation between Wales and England, alongside a lack of clarity and communication of the rules, could mean that Welsh businesses lose out on English visitors. Many spoke of their reliance on trade from English visitors.
Currently Wales does not have a detailed roadmap to reopening which has meant that many businesses are left in the dark as to when they will be able to reopen. Several businesses said that this would have a particular impact on them as they need several weeks and additional financial investment before they are able to welcome visitors once again.
Miss Jones committed to representing their concerns to both the UK and Welsh Government and said that she wanted to see businesses in Brecon and Radnorshire take full advantage of the boom in staycations predicted this year.
Commenting on the meeting, Miss Jones said:
“I would like to thank the businesses and organisations who took the time to meet with me today. I am under absolutely no illusions that the sector continues to face immense challenges.
“While some are busy preparing to reopen, which is a positive step, others have no idea of when they are likely to be able to welcome visitors once again. Reopening these businesses creates significant cost and requires time to prepare – they need a roadmap detailing when they are likely to be able to reopen. The Welsh Labour Government is giving nothing but a cold shoulder to these businesses.
“There are a number of inconsistencies in the Welsh Government guidance for the industry which I will be querying with the Tourism Minister and officials in Cardiff Bay.
“I will be the first to welcome back visitors to Brecon and Radnorshire when it is safe to do so, but we also need to make sure we give the tourism sector the best possible chance to recover from this crisis. These businesses are small, family run enterprises – they keep our area thriving and they need to be urgently prioritised by the Welsh Labour Government.”