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Coronavirus: What next for the tourism industry in Wales?

 

The tourism industry in Wales has been shut off since the start of lockdown at the end of March.

Potential visitors from across the border in England and further afield have been told to 'Visit Wales Later'.

Concerns have been raised from opposition parties in Wales that the economy and industries like tourism are suffering huge financial losses because of the Coronavirus lockdown.

On Monday, the reopening of shops in Wales - with social distancing requirements in place - will provide some relief to business owners across Wales and a boost to the economy, but what about the tourism industry?

(The Visit Wales website has this message for potential visitors.)

What's been said about tourism in Wales?

On Friday, the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, announced the new changes to lockdown restrictions in Wales including the reopening of shops but the remaining of the 'five-mile rule'.

The Welsh Government may lift the requirement to stay local on the 6th of July, but only if safe to do so. When lifted, like in England, people will be able to travel as far as they wish for exercise, to visit friends and family outside, or to visit local tourist areas.

But when are we likely to see the tourism industry properly return in Wales?

During his announcement, Mr Drakeford told those in the tourism industry to begin to make preparations for reopening from the 13th of July at the earliest.

At the next review on the 9th of July, the Welsh Government will consider a range of specific options for opening, including allowing bookings to be made for self-contained accommodation from the 13th of July.

On Friday, the First Minister said, "If you have a static caravan that has it's own kitchen or bathroom, if you're renting a cottage or going to a hotel that has turned itself into self-contained accommodation, there will be a clear signal from me today that you should use the next three weeks to get everything you need in place, and you will be able to start taking bookings for after 13 July,".

(Fontygary Caravan Leisure Park will be one of the accommodation sites hoping to open on the 13th. Photo - Fontygary Leisure Park)

Earlier this week a letter from the heads of the tourism industry, sent to the First Minister, warned that the industry was on the "brink of collapse".

Latest estimates say the tourism industry is worth three billions pounds to the Welsh economy every year, directly supports about 120,000 jobs - almost 10% of Wales' workforce - and contributes 6% of all Gross Value Added to the Welsh economy.

The Welsh economy minister Ken Skates told BBC Radio Wales at the end of May that "The tourism sector is really going to struggle to generate any significant revenue before certainly Easter of next year, possibly the summer of next year.

"We have to protect the 2021 season by making sure we get rid of the virus as soon as possible".

The announcement by Mark Drakeford this week may have provided some much needed positivity for those in the industry.

The tourism situation in the Vale of Glamorgan

In the Vale of Glamorgan, businesses across the county rely on tourist footfall - especially during the summer months, but this weekend has seen some changes which point towards a move towards normality.

On Friday, the Vale of Glamorgan Council announced that they would be reopening car parks and public toilets at popular tourist areas around the Vale, including at Barry Island and Llantwit Major Beach.

Social distancing measures have been put in place at the Barry Island car parks and businesses such as Marcos Cafe, which opened over the weekend.

(Marco's Cafe reopened on Saturday)

Along with Marco's, Finnegans Inn, Teddy T's and Rumba have opened with limited food menus, and ahead of the good weather forecast for next week, The RNLI Lifeguards have also returned to the Island, a post on their Facebook page said:

Elsewhere in the Vale, Penarth Pier will see a new one-way system come into place to ensure social distancing can take place, and Ogmore By Sea car park has reopened.

Good signs for the tourism industry in Wales and in the Vale this weekend, with those working in the sector looking towards the 6th of June now when they will hope the Welsh Government feel it safe enough to remove the stay local message.

After that, all eyes of those in the tourism industry will be on the Welsh Government's daily press briefing on the 9th of July, when an update will be given on how the sector may emerge from a massively damaging lockdown.

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