News

First Minister ‘pride’ getting in the way of re-opening tourism, says industry boss

27 Mar 2021 3 minutes Read
Jim Jones, MD of North Wales Tourism Ltd in Llanduddno. Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government.

A Welsh tourism leader has suggested that the First Minister’s “pride” is getting in the way of his setting out a roadmap of out lockdown for the industry in Wales.

Jim Jones, the chief executive of North Wales Tourism, said that there was a real sense of frustration for tourism businesses which did not know when they would reopen.

He accused the Welsh Government of failing to listen to the sector’s pleas for a proper roadmap to navigate the return to something near normality.

“It is very difficult to understand why they won’t map this out, especially as the other three home nations have now done so,” Jim Jones said.

“Maybe it’s a matter of pride on the First Minister’s behalf that he wants to stick to his agenda of not budging on his opinion, even though the evidence and feedback tell him otherwise. I really don’t know.

“But he needs to realise that when running a business, people need time to plan. They now have very little resource, which makes things a lot harder.”

The ‘stay local rule was lifted in Wales and unrestricted travel within the country’s borders allowed from today. Self-contained tourist accommodation – including many hotels and cottages – will also be able to open then.

However other hospitality and tourism must stay closed and tourists from England will not be allowed to travel to Wales until 12 April under the UK Government’s lockdown rules.

The Welsh Government had said it is taking a step-by-step approach to relaxing the coronavirus restrictions, which takes account of the highly-infectious Kent variant.

Announcing the changes, the First Minister Mark Drakeford said that “these further relaxations are part of our careful and phased approach to unlocking the restrictions and enabling people and businesses to resume their activities in the safest possible way”.

‘Tough’

Jim Jones said that it was “excellent news” that some tourism was able to open up in Wales but “a great shame” that many of our attractions and hospitality won’t be open for Easter.

“There is still a real and palpable sense of frustration in the sector, as it feels that the Welsh Government haven’t been listening to the mood on the ground. If they had, then we would have a plan to take us forward post-April,” he said.

“We at North Wales Tourism, on behalf of the sector, have consistently offered advice and guidance to Welsh Government throughout this whole pandemic. But it appears to be of no avail.

“However, we know dates will eventually be forthcoming, based on the success of the vaccine roll out and reduction in cases.

“In the meantime, more targeted financial support is still needed for the sector to help with recovery. Be under no illusion, this is still going to be a very tough and bumpy ride for many businesses going forward.”

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