Cornish business leaders urge residents not to 'demonise' visitors

Credit: ITV West Country

Cornish business leaders are urging residents not to 'demonise' tourists and second home owners.

The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce says visitors play an important part in the county's economy and there's a danger that negativity could drive them away.

There have been reports of higher visitor numbers in Cornwall this summer with the coronavirus pandemic restricting overseas travel.

Kim Conchie, chief executive of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said:

"We mustn't get to the situation in Wales in the 1970s where they burned down second homes. You can't tar everyone with the same brush.

"Second home owners who are not buying their products and services from local people and not contributing to things like local shops and pubs, we are not happy with that.

"But Cornwall is leading the way with sustainable and regenerative tourism. We need to say that these people are welcome but this is how we want you to act - to support local businesses and services.

"There is a danger of demonising them. I understand why some people don't like it but a lot of people don't appreciate just how important tourism is. It is 33% of our GDP.

"Nobody asks you when you go into a shop whether you are a visitor or local but with Cornwall having 500,000 odd residents and 4million visitors a large proportion of customers in shops and businesses will be visitors."

Credit: ITV West Country

Mr Conchie added that repairs and improvements to holiday accommodation out of season would likely be carried out by local craftspeople who rely on that income:

"We can't be in a poverty bubble because we are refusing to benefit from the rest of the world."

Mark Duddridge, chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said Cornwall needs to strike a fine balance when it comes to tourism:

"We mustn't demonise tourism. The fact that so many people come to spend their time here in Cornwall gives us such a huge boost and puts us on the map.

"But we also know that if you get it wrong you will damage the offer, it will get too busy. We have to make sure we don't damage it."

He added that Visit Cornwall and other organisations were considering ways to make tourism more sustainable and also to extend the season so tourism can continue year-round.