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.”