Negative messages in the press and on social media about tourists and second home owners are holding Wales’ economic recovery back, according to a tourism boss.
Jim Jones, chief executive of North Wales Tourism, said some press and social media commentary was becoming a problem for the tourism sector. as it attempted to get back on its feet after Covid-19.
“As we reopen, we not only face the challenge of doing so safely and within changing guidelines, but we also have a communications challenge to overcome the wave of overly-negative anti-visitor commentary,” he said.
“The message has been about ‘diseased’ visitors, parking, litter and ‘selfish’ beach-goers and second home owners.
“This is such a shame as most of our visitors are responsible and just looking for some of the high-quality open spaces and experiences we offer, and second-home owners make up a significant part of our communities too.
“These anti-visitor messages could have been handled much better by authorities – we need a concerted effort to make sure visitors really do feel welcome.”
His comments come after politicians wrote to Wales’ First Minister saying that they are “extremely concerned” about tourists’ ability to maintain social distances in Wales’ seaside towns.
They said that “the numbers flocking here are more than can be dealt with, which leads to a situation beyond of the ability of the authorities to maintain order”.
They cited the example of Barmouth in Gwynedd where there was illegal parking across the town and tourists unable to socially distance because of the crowds.
The letter was signed by Hywel Williams MP, Sian Gwenllian MS, Liz Saville Roberts MP, Helen Mary Jones MS, Leader of Gwynedd Council, Cllr Dyfrig ap Siencyn, and his deputy Cllr Dafydd Meurig.
However, Jim Jones also said that chaotic scenes where tourists were illegally parked were caused by inaction by political leaders themselves.
“We have witnessed the problems of parking growing in the area for many years,” he said.
“We also watched the local authority and Snowdonia National Park Authority do nothing to alleviate the growing problem.
“Every year it is the same around Snowdon – full car parks and badly parked cars on the highways.
“It’s not OK to block a highway but this is an entirely predictable problem – and every year it’s the same.
“The authorities involved have had months of opportunity, years even, to alleviate this problem.”