Message to Members - Wales Tourism Alliance Covid-19 Statement
Through continuing conversations with many of our members, together with information received from media coverage, the WTA is fully aware of pressures being experienced by tourism businesses through the contraction of the UK economy. Increasing levels of cancellations are being reported across the sector with resultant impacts upon cash flow. Trading patterns are evolving in unprecedented and unexpected fashion. Operational challenges are being presented by ever increasing ‘stay at home’ employees. Without doubt the sector is facing high levels of business closures if immediate action and support is not received, with resultant impacts upon communities across the country.
The Budget Statement announced last week introduced a number of measures across the UK in an attempt to address impacts created by the outbreak of Covid-19 virus. The measures appeared helpful, but we are now in need of greater clarity from Welsh Government concerning the detail. In other words how the detail applies to tourism businesses in Wales. Businesses need to know as a matter of some urgency if measures are applicable – and if so, how they can be accessed and implemented.
Whilst we note and appreciate that the Welsh Government, via Visit Wales, are monitoring the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the tourism sector, businesses are now in need of greater direction and guidance of actions that need to be taken to address this fast moving and unfolding situation. As mentioned, tourism businesses are reporting back increasingly a demise in visitor numbers, forward bookings and cancellations. Therefore, as a matter of priority it is important that we gain a series of commitments as soon as possible, whereby the Welsh Government uses its devolved powers to provide tailored support that will kick in within a specific timeline. For example:
- Measures to support tourism industry employers and employees
- Additional campaign effort aimed at our target market stating our unique ‘rural and coastal product’ as soon as it is ethically and sensitively sound to do so – with a clear ‘Wales is open for business’ message.
- A clear statement as to the financial support that will be available via the UK Government or tailored Welsh Government action.
Tourism is a key economic driver for Wales. It is the lifeblood of many rural and coastal communities. It generates £6 billion to the national economy each year and it must be supported at this very challenging time. If measures are put in place now, then businesses will be ready to bounce back once the crisis has passed. And bounce back stronger.
Unfortunately, our Cross party meeting at the Senedd on the 24th March 2020 has now been cancelled, but we are still seeking a meeting with the Welsh Government and Officers as this issue has assumed even greater importance. The WTA will seek to present your views and concerns on the impact of Covid-19.