The chief executive of an organisation representing more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses in Mid Wales has welcomed the Welsh Government’s first step towards reopening the tourism sector from July 6.
First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Friday that travel restrictions in Wales will be lifted on July 6, allowing journeys to outdoor tourist attractions and destinations. Bookings for self-contained accommodation and visits to caravan holiday parks will be allowed from July 13.
“We are relieved that at least some of our member businesses are going to be able to reopen from July 6, but it’s just the first step on a very long journey to the new normal for our sector,” said Val Hawkins, from MWT Cymru.
“The announcement is down to the hard work that the Wales Tourism Alliance, of which MWT Cymru is a member and others have been doing behind the scenes with Visit Wales throughout the pandemic lockdown.”
MWT Cymru, which has member businesses of all sizes across Powys, Ceredigion and South Gwynedd, says Mid Wales is going to need a robust tourism sector as the region bounces back from the pandemic.
Mrs Hawkins stressed that a huge combined effort by the Welsh Government, local authorities, communities, businesses and everybody involved in the tourism sector will be needed to ensure that Mid Wales is ready to welcome back visitors from July 6.
“Our members take public security and safety seriously and will take all the necessary measures to keep our businesses, employees, visitors and communities safe,” she added. “It’s vital that everybody continues to follow the public health advice and guidance from the Welsh Government to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“The pandemic is having a huge impact on the tourism industry due to the loss of income and continued restrictions imposed on many businesses. We must now all focus on our marketing to ensure that people are aware that Mid Wales is reopening to visitors from July 6.
“Undoubtedly, there will be confusion about what can and cannot reopen. We are here to help to advise our members and provide practical support remotely, wherever possible, as we have done throughout this crisis.”
Rowland Rees-Evans, MWT Cymru’s chairman and a director of the family-owned Penrhos Park holiday, golf and leisure park at Llanrhystud, near Aberystwyth, said:
“Tourism is very important not only to the rural economy, but to the Welsh economy as a whole.
“Having already lost a big chunk of the season, we are relieved that the Welsh Government has now set out a roadmap to reopen the industry.
“I believe we can run our businesses safely by putting in place measures to stop the spread of the virus and we look forward to welcoming our customers and friends back in July.”
Mr Drakeford said; “The visitor economy in Wales should use the next three weeks to prepare to re-open self-contained accommodation in Wales during the month of July.
“If you have a static caravan that has its own kitchen or bathroom, if you’re renting a cottage or going to a hotel that has turned itself into self-contained accommodation, there is 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 July 13.”
The tourism sector is worth £864.5 million a year to the Powys economy, supporting 11,662 jobs and attracting around 4.69 million visitors. In Ceredigion, tourism contributes around £331 million annually to the economy, supporting 5,400 jobs and attracting more than 2.73 million visitors.