North Wales has lost millions but we have 'great resilience'


April 15, 2020

The coronavirus lockdown has cost tourism in North Wales £100 million in lost takings over the Easter bank holiday weekend, it’s been revealed.

Jim Jones, the chief executive of North Wales Tourism, says many tourism businesses were telling them they may not survive the economic carnage caused by the pandemic.

Traditionally, Easter marked the beginning of the main tourism season where operators reaped the rewards of their investment. The Covid-19 crisis hit at a time when the visitor economy was booming.

There were record levels of private and public sector investment while the annual level of spending by tourists had risen to an all-time high of £3.241 billion and the number of visitors rocketing to 30 million a year.

Before the crisis the industry employed 42,000 people across North Wales – adding up to one in seven jobs in the region.

But the industry had now ground to a complete halt with attractions, accommodation providers and events all closed down indefinitely – and no certainty there would be a summer season this year. 

Mr Jones said: “Tourism generates more than £3 billion a year of spending by visitors.

“About half of that comes in the main holiday season – it's estimated the amount of income generated over the long Easter weekend is £ 100 million.

“What’s causing particular hardship in our tourism sector across North Wales, is that it’s come at the worst possible time.

“Many businesses haven’t generated any new cash flow since October and they committed to general maintenance and improvements over the winter using extended overdrafts and loans with the hope of a good Easter break to kick start them into the season.

The UK and Welsh Government have been extremely generous in an unprecedented provision of financial support.

“However, as you will see in time, it’s not going to be enough. There are still a number of critical issues that need looking at, such as some banks are not helping businesses in this difficult time.

“One of North Wales Tourism Board Members was told, that because her business will not be generating any income in the next few months they were unable to support them

“Not getting enough cash flow into their businesses to help right now is the crux of the problem and will ultimately be make-or-break for many.

“We’ve heard from many businesses that even when they have closed the doors to visitors they still have huge overheads.

“For example, the Welsh Mountain Zoo still have to care for their animals. Anglesey Sea Zoo, who have a globally important British Sea Horse breeding and conservation programme, still need to cover the cost of keeping all the plant and filtering systems working. 

“On a positive note North Wales has great resilience, and we will get through this. Tourism business here have a great sense of community and they pull together and work with each other.

“We have paused all our marketing activity for the moment, though brilliantly, the Great Orme goats have been promoting North Wales around the world on our behalf!

“Our organisation is starting to think about helping North Wales be future-ready for when this is over.

“All the work that has gone into making North Wales the Adventure Capital of Europe over recent years hasn’t been wasted and will give us a good platform from which to rebuild. We are confident that people will come back when the time is right.

“But for now the message is loud and clear, stay home and stay safe and we hope to see you soon.”