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Urgent cash injection needed to save 100,000 Welsh tourism jobs

The chairman of a leading visitor attraction is challenging the Welsh Government to make an immediate cash injection into the Welsh tourism industry to prevent job losses of around 100,000.

Ashford Price, from the multi-award winning National Showcaves Centre for Wales at Abercraf, near Swansea, has warned that the current crisis caused by the spread of Coronavirus dwarfs all previous tourism disasters in the past 45 years, particularly as it comes just before the traditionally busy Easter period.

Unless there is an urgent cash injection by the Welsh Government, he predicts the bankruptcy of many tourism businesses and thousands of redundancies.

He calls on the Welsh Government to set up a Tourism COBRA Committee to communicate with and react to the industry’s needs and to double Visit Wales’ promotional budget for 2021.

Mr Price contrasts the lack of crisis support for the tourism industry with the action taken by Welsh AMs and MPs when 4,000 jobs were threatened at Port Talbot steel works last year.

“Our politicians were queuing up to get on TV, radio and the Welsh Government propaganda machine went into hyper drive with offers of help,” he said. “At the time the steel works were losing £1 million pounds a day.

“Today, the Welsh tourism industry is in danger of losing upwards of 100,000 jobs. The industry produces not a loss, but a massive £6.32 billion a year for the Welsh economy and, in employment terms, represents nearly 10% of the workforce.

“The media silence to the tourism crisis by politicians is deafening. They have failed to grasp the true disaster facing the industry.

“The Welsh Government’s rates rebate is well below what Scotland and England are offering their tourism industries and a drop in the ocean as to what is really required.

“What is really needed is a massive injection of cash into tourism businesses. If this is not forthcoming within a few days, up to 100,000 Welsh tourism workers could be jobless.

“Simply put, Welsh tourism has no cash at present and no early prospect of getting any, especially with Easter now written off. They need cash, cash, cash to pay this week’s wage bill and keep people employed.

“Tourism is vital to all of Wales. It produces a daily £14 million for the Principality and provides jobs that help rural and coastal communities survive. We desperately need our Welsh Government for once to think outside the box, see the problem, then be imaginative and help save Wales’ second largest industry from complete collapse.

“Failure to act will result in thousands being made redundant, bankruptcy for many tourism businesses and already deprived areas in coastal and rural areas suffering further job deprivations.”

He explained that many tourism businesses have invested, using bank overdraft facilities, over the winter to prepare for the 2020 tourism season and started training seasonal workers.

Now they faced a complete collapse of this year’s tourism season with little prospect of income until late summer or even Easter next year.

Whilst Mr Price welcomed the UK Government’s offer of unlimited loans for tourism businesses, he said they would have to be repaid on top of overdrafts. He said the loans would be more appropriate as businesses restarted following the Coronavirus crisis.