Tourism leaders in Mid Wales have backed a call by a Welsh Government taskforce to bring forward the reopening of indoor hospitality and the wider tourism sector.
Under the existing plans for Wales, outdoor hospitality and tourism are set to reopen on April 26, with indoor hospitality and indoor tourism attractions earmarked for the end of May.
Now the Covid-19 Tourism Taskforce, set up by Welsh Government and representing the hospitality and tourism industry in Wales, has written to First Minister Mark Drakeford asking him to forward the reopening dates in line with England and Scotland, or even sooner. This would see indoor hospitality and indoor attractions reopen on May 17.
MWT Cymru, which represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd, has backed the letter and commended the work of the taskforce throughout the pandemic.
Rowland Rees-Evans, MWT Cymru’s chairman, is calling for the taskforce to continue its work during the Covid-19 recovery period and beyond and for the next Welsh Government to create a Cabinet Minister for Tourism.
“We welcome the taskforce’s letter to the First Minister because it comes from the whole hospitality and tourism industry,” he said. “The Welsh Government has said all along that the reopening dates are guided by the Covid-19 infection rate data because it doesn’t want the NHS to be overwhelmed.
“We are now at the stage where the data has overtaken the dates, so why can’t we reopen faster. If we don’t reopen the industry in line with England, Wales is going to lose out again and people are going to book holidays and short breaks in other parts of the UK.
“We feel that the Welsh Parliament-Senedd Cymru election should have been delayed because purdah is standing in the way of important decisions during an absolutely crucial time for the industry.
“We would like to thank the Covid-19 Tourism Taskforce for its excellent work during the pandemic and we think it’s essential that it carries on representing the hospitality and tourism industry during the recovery and beyond. We also believe there is a definite need for a Cabinet Minister for Tourism in the next Welsh Government.”
Taskforce member, Wales Tourism Alliance chairman Andrew Campbell said: “We are calling for flexibility in bringing forward the reopening of indoor hospitality and attractions, following the excellent work done by the Welsh Government in controlling the Covid-19 infection rate in Wales.
“We must get the sector open because businesses need to start trading as their cash reserves are low. It’s essential that the sector continues to have the ability to feed in concerns and issues to the Welsh Government as and when they arise.”
Representing Mid Wales on the taskforce is Steve Hughson, Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum chair and chief executive of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society at Llanelwedd.
Other taskforce members based in Mid Wales include Adrian Greason-Walker, Wales Tourism Alliance’s Wales policy advisor who lives at Nantmel, near Rhayader and Anthony Rosser, Hospitality Cymru’s chair who is general manager and operations director of Lake Vyrnwy Hotel.
The taskforce’s letter praises the First Minister and Welsh Government for saving lives in Wales and protecting health services from being overwhelmed. However, it says the time has come to reopen the hospitality and tourism sector.
“We appeal with urgency for an early reopening and the positive opportunity to help you begin the economic rebuild that our great industry can help the new government to deliver in the coming months,” it states.
“As a taskforce, we very much look forward to working together with that government to bring forward business stability, staff wellbeing, community replenishment and a Croeso Cynnes to our customers and visitors.”
Call to bring forward the reopening of indoor hospitality and associated Tourism businesses by Tourism Taskforce Group
Mark Drakeford AS/MS
Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and the Welsh Language
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism
14th April 2021
Dear First Minister,
Call to bring forward the reopening of indoor hospitality and associated Tourism businesses.
We, the industry representatives of the COVID-19 Tourism Taskforce Group, are writing to strongly urge you to make a positive statement on the early re-opening of indoor hospitality and associated tourism businesses at your next First Minister’s Announcement on the 22nd April 2021.
We are asking for a reopening date for our businesses in Wales to at least match the indoor hospitality dates of 17th May that are now in place in both England and Scotland- and even earlier if it is possible.
Your resolve in putting the health and safety of our nation above all other priorities has saved lives, protected health care provision and sent out a clear message that Wales will be a safe destination to visit when the time is right. We also recognise the enormous success of the Welsh Government’s vaccination programme, which has seen a rapid drop in the cases logged across Wales in recent weeks.
We believe your delivery of both to date now shows conditions are right to make a clear and positive statement and bring forward the much needed reopening of tourism and hospitality businesses in Wales.
The data for Wales is showing hugely encouraging signs with cases falling to a low of below 20 per 100,000- the lowest number since our industry was open for business in September. This advance has this week prompted your announcements of an earlier opening for gyms, leisure businesses and further household mixing.
We would like equal consideration for our businesses. We believe the clear change in conditions should allow our businesses to open much earlier than the tentative “before the end of May” timings outlined in your last review. What hasn’t changed in recent weeks are the anxiety levels, mental health concerns and wellbeing issues of our owners, managers and of their staff, who are desperate for the surety of day-to-day living that a return to work provides.
While forced to close, and only around 30 per cent of our businesses can open with outdoor hospitality, and while without the confirmation of additional financial support resources while shut, they also face making serious decisions about their, and their workforce’s, futures.
Further support, while we are forced to be closed, is critical to maintain the excellent work on supporting businesses in Wales achieved to date- and we urge Welsh Government to make sure jobs throughout the industry are continued to be supported and protected as we wait to reopen.
However, nothing can replace our ability to trade. We appeal with urgency for an early reopening and the positive opportunity to help you begin the economic rebuild that our great industry can help the new Government to deliver in the coming months.
As a Taskforce, we very much look forward to working together with that Government to bring forward business stability, staff wellbeing, community replenishment and a Croeso Cynnes to our customers and visitors.
Michael Bewick Steve Hughson
North Wales Regional Mid Wales Regional
Tourism Forum Tourism Forum
Philippa George Paula Ellis
South East Regional South West Regional
Tourism Forum Tourism Forum
Andrew Campbell Anthony Rosser
Wales Tourism Alliance Hospitality Cymru
Ian Edwards Sean Taylor
Visit Britain Board British Tourist Authority
David Chapman Adrian Greason-Walker
Executive Director Wales Policy Advisor
UKHospitality Cymru Wales Tourism Alliance
The Welsh Government has announced the further acceleration of elements of its programme to relax COVID-19 restrictions. The public will be able to form an extended household, visit the gym or take part in organised outdoor activities a week earlier than planned, as the public health situation - and vaccination rates - continue to improve. The First Minister last week set out a detailed timetable for moving Wales firmly into alert level three.
From Monday 12 April, the following relaxations are in place:
On Monday 26 April:
Caravan parks across Mid Wales are pulling out all the stops to welcome back England-based customers safely on Monday, April 12 as Covid 19 lockdown restrictions continue to ease. The Welsh Government took the first step to easing restrictions on March 27 when caravan parks and other self-contained accommodation were able to open to people living within Wales.
Now people living across the Welsh border will be able to return to caravan holiday home parks and drive to touring caravan and motorhome parks across Wales, bringing a welcome boost to the tourism economy. The reopening of the parks coincides with the second week of the Easter half-term school holiday in England.
“The caravan parks in Mid Wales have never looked better as they prepare to welcome back customers from England,” said Dylan Roberts, joint managing director of award-winning caravan and motorhome dealership Salop Leisure, which has sales centres in Shrewsbury, Machynlleth and Stourport on Severn.
“After a very quiet Easter Bank Holiday weekend in Mid Wales, park managers are really looking forward to welcoming back caravan owners and visitors from England for what promises to be a bumper holiday season for anyone connected to the tourism industry.
“Everybody is delighted to be getting back to some form of normality and it’s great news for the caravan industry, including parks, dealerships, manufacturers and consumers.”
Salop Leisure, which supplies caravans and luxury lodges to 250 holiday home parks across Mid Wales and the Heart of England, has reported high demand for caravans and motorhomes.
The company believes that, with more British people taking ‘staycation’ holidays this year, caravans and motorhomes are going to be in even greater demand, which is good news for businesses that rely on the tourism industry.
However, the company is advising those thinking of investing in a new or pre-owned caravan or motorhome not to delay, as stocks are likely to be in short supply due to the high demand. Available pitches on caravan holiday home parks are also being snapped up quickly.
Sales of touring caravans and motorhomes at Salop Leisure in March were 50% up on the same month last year. Although Salop Leisure’s sales centres have been closed to visitors due to the lockdown, customers have still been able to view caravans and motorhomes online, telephone to order and then arrange to collect their purchase.
“We saw huge demand for caravan holiday homes, luxury lodges, touring caravans and motorhomes last summer and this has continued into 2021, as people look forward to spending their holidays and short breaks in Mid Wales and the Heart of England,” said Mr Roberts.
“After months of staying at home, families are desperate for a change of scenery where they can escape and relax. Our industry is perfectly placed to cater for this demand.
“Uncertainty about restrictions on foreign travel and the prevalence of Covid-19 in other countries suggests to me that staycationing will be more popular than ever this year. People are apprehensive about leaving this country and facing quarantine restrictions when they return.”
Val Hawkins, chief executive of MWT Cymru, which represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses in Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd, said businesses were looking forward to welcoming back visitors from outside of Wales.
“Our businesses have been very busy making improvements in preparation to welcome back visitors safely in a Covid-secure environment,” she added.
“Visitors to Mid Wales will find lots of things to see, do and discover, including rural forest trails and coastal walks, cycling and mountain biking trails and spectacular spring gardens, and we are looking forward to the outdoor attractions and activities sector and outdoor hospitality reopening on April 26.”
The UK Government has set out the details of the traffic light system that has been developed by the Global Travel Taskforce.
The Government will set out which countries are in each of these categories in early May, as well as confirming whether international travel can resume from 17 May 2021. The restrictions will be formally reviewed on 28 June 2021 to take account of the domestic and international health picture, and to see whether current measures could be rolled back. Further formal reviews will take place no later than 31 July and 1 October 2021.
As we look at a phased re-opening, you need to be aware of the Guidance for Tourism and Hospitality businesses. As each premises is different, businesses should read all guidance to understand the measures to be considered to re-open the business safely.
The following additional measures are intended to provide further advice for self-contained accommodation businesses and must be considered in line with the UKHospitality Wales Guidance and the Guidance for Tourism and Hospitality. You will also find detailed and updated guidance on our home page specifically for self catering premises. Businesses should also consider, where appropriate:
The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, is today setting out a series of measures that will take Wales fully into Alert Level 3 by 17th May, subject to public health conditions remaining favourable.
The First Minister again set out the priority placed on ensuring all children and students in Wales will return to face-to-face education on Monday 12 April.
All remaining non-essential retail and close contact services will be allowed to reopen from Monday 12 April, while the rules will also be changed to allow travel into and out of Wales from the rest of the United Kingdom and Common Travel Area. Changes remain subject to public health conditions continuing to remain favourable.
The Welsh Government is also signalling further changes it aims to confirm at the 22 April review, subject to public health conditions and final confirmation by Ministers, which would see outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality reopen, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants on Monday 26 April. By early May, plans include allowing organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people to take place, and for gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities to reopen for individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes.
The changes continue the Welsh Government’s planned, step-by-step approach to relaxing the coronavirus restrictions, taking account of the highly-infectious Kent variant, which is now the dominant form of the virus in Wales.
The public health situation in Wales continues to improve. The number of cases of coronavirus in our communities is generally falling and pressure on the NHS is easing. First Minister, Mark Drakeford said:
“Thanks to a real team effort across Wales, coronavirus cases remain stable, and the vaccination programme continues apace. As a result, the Welsh Government has the headroom to continue its careful, step-by-step approach to relaxing restrictions.
“The review we have concluded this week, means we can continue with our programme of further re-opening of the economy and loosening the restrictions in place.”
Should public health conditions remain favourable, from Monday 12th April, the following relaxations can go ahead:
The further relaxations follow the successful return of primary pupils and many older secondary school and college students to face-to-face learning and the start of the phased re-opening of non-essential retail, including the opening of hairdressers and barbers.
Ministers are now signalling further easements to restrictions in the coming weeks subject to the public health situation remaining favourable. These are consistent with the cautious and phased approach set out in the updated Coronavirus Control Plan: Revised Alert Levels in Wales.
On Monday 26 April: Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, would be allowed to reopen;
The reopening/resumption of the following, from the first week of the new cycle, i.e. Monday 17 May:
The First Minister added:
“The sacrifices we have all made are having a positive effect in the battle against Coronavirus. This last year has been incredibly difficult for all of us and again I want to thank everyone for their efforts.
“These efforts have allowed us to gradually ease the restrictions, to gradually introduce more elements of normal life.
“With the weather improving, with more opportunities to see family and friends, there are reasons for optimism. However, we can’t let our guard down yet. We all still need to be vigilant, we still need to do our part to keep this deadly disease at bay.”
Tourism and hospitality businesses must take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus and should not knowingly accept customers in breach of the travel restrictions.
Below is a link to the summary document for the large raft of tax papers and consultations that were published on the 23rd March 2021. A lengthy document which shows the breadth of proposed Tax reforms that are about to hit the UK. The core papers are:
Modernising tax administration
Further tax policy announcements
The Welsh Government has published a Tourism recovery Plan for the tourism industry in Wales. Developed in consultation with the Tourism Taskforce (WTA Membership) , the plan includes a shared partnership framework of essential themes around which interventions will be built to support businesses through short to medium-term recovery.
There are eight essential themes, these include:
4.Rebuilding consumer confidence.
5.Stimulating and managing demand.
6.Developing local visitor economies.
7.Transforming the sector to be more resilient.
8.Developing tailored recovery plans.
Currently a framework plan, it is anticipated that it will be developed and added to over the coming months. More information:
The Next Tourism Generation Competition 2021 has an extended deadline of midnight Friday 30 April 2021 to enable as many young people (16 to 25) as possible to take part to celebrate talent in the industry in Wales, promote careers, aid recovery and highlight the importance of digital and sustainability skills moving forwards. Full information is available on the website: