Why Wales needs tourists, but they don’t necessarily want them

Credit: ITV Wales

The quaint seaside town of New Quay is always quieter during the winter, but during the Summer it becomes a bustling and vibrant holiday resort.

One of its main draws are the Bay’s famous dolphins - often seen swimming and diving, following boats as they come into the bay.

But, like other businesses, Jonathan Evans hasn’t sold a ticket for his dolphin spotting trips since March.

Today the town is almost completely deserted.

The quaint seaside town of New Quay is usually a bustling and vibrant holiday resort Credit: ITV Wales

As a county, Ceredigion has had the lowest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Wales, but is the county ready to welcome the inevitable hordes of visitors when lockdown is lifted?

Jonathan says it’s going to be extremely hard to get the balance right.

“The economy vs health debate is obviously well understood. Nobody wants to lose a member of their family but they don’t want to lose their business so it’s a tricky one,'' he said.

“Some of the locals do get a little bit jittery because the infection rate is virtually zero here so any single person that comes presents a risk. When you haven’t seen anybody but locals for months it’s an understandable risk, but we can’t stay like this for ever.”

Tourism is estimated to be worth £3 billion to the Welsh economy.

But attractions around the country were forced to close when Wales entered lockdown in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus.

The Thomas family opened their caravan park and campsite near Aberaeron three years ago.

They say they’ve worked hard to build up their business, which includes a farm shop and restaurant, but over the past few weeks they’ve had to turn away hundreds of prospective visitors.

"Based on the same period of time last year we're touching on £300,000 down and obviously the weather last year in as many weeks was nothing like it's been this year, so it's catastrophic for us," owner Chris Evans said.

"We have hundreds and hundreds of emails and of course it’s very difficult because we have three receptionists normally but they’re all on furlough, so I do these daily videos to try and update people and just say, 'Hang on, you’ll know when we know', and that is a dreadful way to run a business when we have spent such a lot of time advertising it, promoting it, getting it out there and what can you tell them? It’s heartbreaking."

Many within the industry are now calling for urgent clarity, on when they may be able to start preparing to reopen, and how they will do it.

At the Stackpole Inn in Pembrokeshire owners Gary and Becky say they “can adapt to anything”, but need to have a clear timeframe to work towards.

The owners of the Stackpole Inn say social distancing at their restaurant will be difficult Credit: ITV Wales

Social distancing in their restaurant, they say, will be difficult, and the couple also say they’ve already seen some customers cancelling bookings and heading to England instead.

Gary Evans said: "We’ve seen it already with our B&B bookings, people have cancelled and people have told us that they have rebooked in England because they are convinced that the accommodation sector will reopen there before it will in Wales so absolutely we’ve 100% seen that already.

"We can adapt to anything but we just need to know what’s happening."

In England zoos and safari parks have been allowed to open since Monday, as long as they can uphold social-distancing rules.

Non-essential shops have also reopened over the border, with pubs and restaurants there being told they may be able to reopen from July 4th.

The Welsh Government says the safe reopening of the tourism economy is “at the forefront of our minds”.

On Monday the First Minister said he hopes to give "some clarity" for the tourism sector at the end of this week.

We don’t want the sector to be in any doubt at all that the safe reopening of the tourism economy is at the forefront of our minds. We hear what businesses are saying and are acutely aware of the challenges they are facing but we have to be guided by the medical and scientific advice to ensure we only lift restrictions when it is safe to do so.

Welsh Government Spokesperson