Tourism and hospitality businesses across Mid Wales have been praised for their positive collaboration with each other and their communities, as the region prepares to reopen to visitors following the pandemic lockdown. Val Hawkins, chief executive of MWT Cymru, which represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd, is impressed by the ways many businesses are helping each other and consulting with communities about reopening.
As the Welsh Government continues to lift travel restrictions in Wales, pub beer gardens, restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating, self-contained accommodation and caravan holiday parks will be allowed to reopen from July 11, if cases of coronavirus continue to fall. This follows the easement of restrictions on July 6, allowing journeys to outdoor tourist attractions and destinations.
MWT has been supporting members throughout this crisis to help keep businesses informed and access financial support, working closely with Visit Wales, Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum, Wales Tourism Alliance and local authorities.
“Collaboration is going to be more important than ever to help the tourism sector bounce back from the severe impact of the pandemic on businesses and communities across Mid Wales,” said Mrs Hawkins. “We have undertaken specific research to understand how visitors, as well as local communities, feel about reopening and we are using these insights to develop our recovery programme.”
“The tourism sector employs 23,000 people in Mid Wales and generates over £1 billion annually to the local economy. Tourism is vital, now more than ever. We need people in Wales and beyond to choose Mid Wales as a destination.
“However, there is a delicate balance that needs to be struck in reopening. Safety is at the forefront of everybody’s minds, and all our member businesses are committed to creating a safe experience – both for visitors and our local communities.”
MWT is encouraging all businesses in Mid Wales to sign up for Visit Britain’s new industry standard mark, ‘We're Good To Go’.
“We’re Good To Go is the official UK mark to signal that a tourism and hospitality business has worked hard to follow Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing,” said Mrs Hawkins.
“When you see the ‘Good To Go’ accreditation logo on our Visit Mid Wales website, you can be confident that these businesses are operating in line with Welsh Government and Public Health Wales guidelines.“When visitors return, we also urge them to play their part to help keep our communities safe by practicing safe behaviours like social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing masks when in public spaces (e.g. shops, public transport).
“Visitors can help Mid Wales families and communities by shopping locally and visiting our local attractions. Every pound invested in our communities will help us recover from this pandemic.”
She added: “We must remember that even now, whilst lockdown is easing, coronavirus has not gone away. We need to adapt and recover, and this will be the collective responsibility of everyone. We hope that our visitors will support us and help Mid Wales to recover from this crisis.”
She said she had been heartened to see excellent examples of positive collaboration between businesses and communities during the lockdown and is confident this will continue.
“Businesses have been sharing ideas, creating opportunities to work together and supporting each other,” she added. “Our MWT Cymru Members Facebook Group is very active.
“Other businesses have used the lockdown to improve and change their accommodation ready to welcome back visitors.”
Mrs Hawkins quoted the awarding winning Fforest Fields caravan, camping and glamping site at Hundred House, near Llandrindod Wells as an excellent example of a member working with 13 other local businesses to respect their local community.
In a joint message to the community of the Edw Valley and surrounding area, the businesses said: "We are proud to call Radnorshire our home. Although each of our tourism businesses is different, we are united in safeguarding our local community as we look to re-open our businesses after lockdown.
“Before we are able to reopen, we want to reassure our friends and neighbours that we are treading cautiously and are focused on your safety. We are following guidelines and advice from policymakers, the Government, our governing bodies and business networks.
“We will do everything needed with due care and diligence. All our decisions will be weighted by our respect for our community and an understanding of the limits of our local health service.
“Tourism is an important sector for the local economy. Our guests come here because they love the rural beauty of Mid Wales and want to escape their day to day lives. They are respectful and supportive. We want to work to ensure there is harmony between those living and working here and those visiting when the time is right.
“We openly ask anyone who lives and works within the community of the Edw Valley and surrounding area to get in touch if they have any concerns or questions. We thank you for the support shown by so many of you during this difficult time for our businesses, families and teams."