Gwynedd sees largest collapse in consumer spending over Easter as a result of Covid-19

Porthmadog is almong the hardest hit towns in England and Wales. Picture by Bert Kaufmann (CC BY-SA 2.0).

The county of Gwynedd in the north-west has seen the largest collapse in consumer spending as a result of Covid-19 in both Wales and England, according to business data.

The data by SIB, a regeneration charity, provided to Tortoise Media suggests that the towns of Pwllheli and Porthmadog in Gwynedd are among the hardest hit across Wales and also England. Figures for Scotland and other countries were not available for comparison.

Gwynedd, which is home to Snowdonia national park and popular with tourists, saw a 59 per cent drop in consumer spending over Easter. Cornwall’s losses, in second place, stand at 53 per cent.

The figures are in comparison with previous Easter seasons, which usually see a big rise in spending in tourist areas.

The figures were revealed as the Welsh Government asked people to avoid travel to and within Wales over the bank holiday weekend.

In an open letter, the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, Cllr Andrew Morgan, Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), the Chair of Policing Wales & Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, and the Chair of the Welsh Chief Officer Group, Chief Constable Carl Foulkes, called on people to stay home.

The letter also makes clear that travelling to a second home does not ordinarily constitute essential travel, and that anyone leaving or remaining away from the place where they are living without a reasonable excuse is committing an offence.

 

‘Emergency’

The signatories to the letter end by saying: “We look forward to welcoming you back once it is safe again to do so. Until then please stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.”

“Wales is a beautiful and welcoming country but, like other administrations across the United Kingdom, the Welsh Government has placed restrictions on non-essential travel at this time of national emergency. We have also limited access to our national parks, and imposed restrictions on caravan and campsites, hotels, B&Bs and holiday accommodation. These businesses can currently open only in response to a request from the Welsh Government or a local authority.

“We have taken this action to protect health and protect our NHS by limiting the transmission of Covid-19 in communities in Wales.

“The vast majority of people are respecting the restrictions and are making strong efforts to adhere to them. We are asking everyone to continue to respect these measures. In particular, we are asking all owners of second homes in Wales to act responsibly and to avoid travelling to those homes until restrictions have been lifted.

“The Welsh Government and Public Health Wales have been clear throughout the emergency period that travelling to a second home does not ordinarily constitute essential travel. Indeed, anyone leaving or remaining away from the place where they are living without a reasonable excuse is committing an offence.

“Crucially, they are also putting themselves and the communities to which they travel at risk. They are placing an avoidable strain on the police, adding pressure to our health services and additional demands on supply chains.

“Police forces and local authorities in Wales have a range of enforcement powers. The police continue to take a vigilant approach to all travel undertaken without a reasonable excuse.

“The Welsh Government will work with the police, local authorities and others to keep the Regulations and sanctions under review.

“It is vital that we minimise transmission rates: ensuring that we travel only when essential and permitted plays a key part in this.

“We look forward to welcoming you back once it is safe again to do so. Until then please stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.”

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Martin Hughes
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Martin Hughes

The Snowdonia National Park covers parts of both Conwy and Gwynedd, so both are ‘home to the Snowdonia national park’.

Plain citizen
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Plain citizen

I wonder how much bankruptcy, deprivation, and poverty will emanate from the lockdown which may prove (if the results from Germany and Sweden are examined) to be largely unnecessary. The lockdown zealots have seen off visitors to 2nd homes and others whose spending would have ameliorated the problems and they want this to continue for much longer. Now they will be call ing for our English cousins to bail us out.

Gareth Parry
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Gareth Parry

So you were willing to expose local residents to a disproportional increase of exposure from non permanent visitors and second homers , place extra strain on a health service which is designed for the registered population capacity ( and sometimes falls short on that due to wesh labour management), then you show your true nature in
Nof giving a damm about your fellow citizens and you are just a selfish egocentric pr**k.

Plain citizen
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Plain citizen

Gareth, any mature and reasoned analysis knows that government makes decisions all the time which negotiate trade offs between different priorities. How much of limited resources we devote to (say) alleviating child poverty or increasing pensions mean there are less resources for other matters. Only 9% of cv related deaths (the nightly stats denote people dieing WITH cv not FROM it) are from cv. 91% have AT LEAST ONE other life threatening or shortening medical condition. That’s why the NHS produced a points chart of who would be allowed into intensive care. According to your reasoning we should have total… Read more »

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

That’s not a reasoned argument for allowing unrestrained movement, not yet anyway. This is not about preventing the revival of business and commerce although that brings risks with it, but imposing restraint on a 2nd home, caravaner, short stay and any other holiday/visitor traffic. Sadly this is the segment of the travelling public that seems most inconsiderate and unable to hold back on its need for instant gratification.

It also affects large parts of England so not really a straight conflict of Welsh vs English as many would portray it, more like City slickers vs Worried country folk.

Kerry Davies
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Kerry Davies

The urban population which threatens the residents of areas visited seems quite content to accept furloughs and taxpayer subsidy while shutting down their own leisure facilities entirely. Do you consider we yokels to be some form of lesser beings with fewer rights and privileges to the English?
As for bailing out I suggest you learn about balance of trade and how England is responsible for 110% of the UK deficit.

Plain citizen
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Plain citizen

How can England be responsible for 110% of the UK deficit? Youthful enthusiasm leading to typo’s perhaps? I don’t understand your argument that urban dwellers accepting taxpayer subsidies and shut leisure facilities. Are you telling us that leisure facilities in Wales are all open? Or all shut? You wont get your GCSEs on this performance

Ann Owen
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Ann Owen

Plain Citizen – What condescension, really uncalled for. Kerry Davies’s point is well made – how do people living elsewhere (mostly urban dwellers) see that their own leisure facilities are closed down, pubs shut, hotels closed, and somehow think that they can take advantage of these facilities in Wales? They’re shut in their home towns in order to protect them and others from the virus – but obviously they don’t respect the need to protect others in the areas they’re travelling to, be they in Wales, Cornwall, East Suffolk or the Lake District. Non-essential travel is banned – thank God… Read more »

Kerry Davies
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Kerry Davies

Fair question. Scotland and Northern Ireland are in surplus and Wales makes a tiny deficit by importing LNG which goes directly and entirely to England. Not a single region of England has a balance of trade surplus with the country in deficit by £147.1 Bn. The UK deficit is £136. 7Bn thanks to Scotland and NI. OK so it is only 107% and I exaggerated but you get the point? Urban dwellers are getting huge amounts of taxpayer cash to protect their economies so the least they can do is stay where they are being supported. If they travel to… Read more »

Plain citizen
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Plain citizen

Good reply, I follow your trade argument and I’ll have a look at the figures. Sorry about the tone, forgot to take the meds, or maybe too much claret from Aldi, one day melts into another these days.

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

Cousins?

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

The reason these Welsh towns have been harder hit than anywhere else in Wales or anywhere in England is because of the extent to which mass tourism pervades their economies to the point where they are now almost totally dependent on it. If ever there was an argument for reigning tourism in and establishing a productive economy in these towns, with proper jobs, this is it.

Englishman
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Englishman

It’s awful to hear about the impact, both economic and social, that Covid-19 is having throughout the UK and wider. It is evident that areas that rely on seasonal tourism will be hit particularly hard and it will take a while for them to recover. Unfortunately, the general negativity towards tourists and 2nd homeowners will not help that. I’m one of the “hated” 2nd homeowners who are being so derided in many of the comments in the local Welsh media. I have NO intention of breaking the lockdown rules and venturing to our house and I think people who do… Read more »

Wrexhamian
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Wrexhamian

This is the very problem. These areas are almost totally dependent on a situation which contributes to the slow death of Welsh language and culture. It is incumbent now upon the future Senedd Governments to introduce legislation which will discourage holiday homes in the Bro Gymraeg, and to fix the housing market so that it becomes affordable for young local families looking for their first home. This will have the added advantage of reducing the need for new build in these towns and villages. Cymru has no shortage of housing; what it currently has is a shortage of Welsh people… Read more »

Englishman
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Englishman

Wrexhamian – I can understand the frustration, however, I think the solution is wrong. Creating lower cost housing and excluding tourists/2nd homeowners will simply generate a downward economic spiral in areas currently reliant on tourism. This may mean more Welsh people living in the locality, but they will be living on low incomes in areas of deprivation. The government should focus on encouraging business investment to create well paid local jobs at the same time as investing in schools so that children are given the right skills and aspirations. Over time this would be much more advantageous to local people… Read more »

Wrexhamian
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Wrexhamian

Yes, see Rhosddu’s comment about an alternative, Welsh-controlled economy in the Bro. It would be unwise to depend too much on outside investment, however, since, as with tourism, the profits generated from outside investment do not generally stay in Cymru. This is because most of the zipwire economy is not Welsh-owned. It will, inevitably, require WAG intervention to establish profitable businesses in these areas, otherwise the situation will not improve — we will simply be replacing one colonial economy with another. Elsewhere it has been suggested that Senedd offices should be transferred from overloaded Caerdydd to Gwynedd and Ynys Mon.… Read more »

Northwalian
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Northwalian

How would you propose to “fix the housing market”? – And don’t say ban the sale of homes to English people, which won’t fix anything. Houses become affordable when local people earn more money. This has nothing to do with incomers and everything to do with investment and job creation.

Wrexhamian
Guest
Wrexhamian

The Jersey system has been proposed to allow local people access to affordable housing in the tourist areas. The island of Jersey has two prices for each property that comes on to the market: a ‘local price’, available only to residents, and a ‘market price’ for outsiders if no local wants to buy the property.

Expat
Guest
Expat

The notion of affordability needs to be defined, as means different amounts in diff areas and is a problem nationwide, not just in Wales.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

By ‘nationwide’, I presume you mean UK-wide. Yes, the other member countries of the UK have a similar problem, but in the Scottish Highlands and in Wales, and of course in Cornwall, the problem is exacerbated by the negative cultural impact. In Cymru, the most graphic consequence of this has been the steady anglicisation of rural and coastal areas, and the decline in the proportional numbers of Welsh-speakers. This, as much as the colonial relationship, unaffordable housing through holiday home ownership, and poor economic payback from tourism, is what has caused anger in this country. Covid-19 has given the Welsh… Read more »

Eifion
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Eifion

Dysgwch Gymraeg os dowch chi yn ol I Gymru fach Sais 70k ? Does na ddim pris ar y cyfraniad yma gallwch chi neud

Englishman
Guest
Englishman

Mae’n ddrwg gennym Eifion mae fy Nghymraeg yn ofnadwy. hoffwn gyfrannu at y drafodaeth serch hynny.

Please excuse any grammar and spelling mistakes above. In English just in case – Sorry Eifion but my Welsh is terrible. I would like to contribute to the discussion though.