Coronavirus: Tourism Industry Update

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9 April 2020

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Coronavirus: Tourism Industry Update

The situation is developing quickly. Please follow the news reports and for latest advice regularly visit the Public Health Wales website and the Business Wales website

First Minister and Wales’ emergency services call on people of Wales to stay home to save lives this Easter

An unprecedented letter from First Minister Mark Drakeford and signed by Wales’ emergency and health services and council leaders, calls on the Welsh population to stay at home and save lives over the Easter bank holiday weekend. Read more details here.

Request for Holiday Accommodation Businesses to provide accommodation for vulnerable groups

Welsh Ministers are facing a particular challenge in terms of securing sufficient accommodation for vulnerable groups, many of whom will have been displaced as a result of the Coronavirus epidemic. This letter from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas is asking for holiday accommodation businesses to make their accommodation available for this purpose.  In view of the urgency of this matter we are seeking responses by 4pm on Tuesday 14th April 2020.

Hotels, B&Bs, holiday homes and all accommodation must stay closed

Guidelines for operators of holiday accommodation businesses in Wales relating to the regulations on Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 have been published by the Welsh Government.

The guidelines are clear that all accommodation businesses should already be closed and must remain closed until further notice. It is an offence for accommodation owners not to comply with these regulations.  It is also an offence for anyone to obstruct accommodation owners from carrying out their duties.  Find more details here

Impact on Industry – Tracker Surveys

In order to provide impact data and to help support the industry through these challenging times we ran a second wave of our telephone survey extended to 400 tourism businesses in Wales in late March. A summary of the findings can be viewed here.

We will run a third wave of the survey later this month.  Many thanks to those who have responded to date, we are very grateful for your participation.

An online survey has also been running and this will be updated later this month. Please complete the survey here.  If you completed the previous online version and want to submit a new response, you may need to refresh the browser page using CTRL+F5.

Industry Stakeholder Engagement

Visit Wales continues to have daily interaction with the sector across Wales and today held its weekly meeting with the group of key industry representatives who are ensuring the main issues affecting the industry are brought to our attention. 

In summary, the key messages were that whilst the support already announced was welcomed, the tide had not been stemmed and things were still precarious. There was particular anxiety about cash flow and it was assumed that lockdown was likely to be longer than first anticipated.

It was reported that some of the banks were being slow to assist and not working proactively with businesses. The Welsh Government Economic Resilience Fund was welcomed and it was reported that the first element - the Development Bank of Wales Loan Fund - had received some 1,500 applications in just over one week. The first applications were approved within three days of the fund launch, with the first loans reaching applicants by the end of last week. A further announcement regarding the grant element of the Economic Resilience Fund is expected shortly.

Ongoing concerns were raised that it would be 3-6 months before the industry was back to anything near normal, so further information from the UK Government on furloughing - specifically post-May and seasonal staff who fall outside these arrangements – was required.

Understanding the recovery phase was also seen as very important. There remained concern gaps in the self-employed support scheme and calls for the utility companies to provide some breathing-space to businesses in respect of payments during this difficult time, and for insurance companies to consider their approach to business interruption insurance.

There were various reports that people were still trying to come to Wales to visit; that holiday homes being let as second homes continued to be a problem; and the ongoing messaging from Welsh Government for people to stay at home to save lives was welcomed.

The Minister recognised the issues raised and confirmed that they, and many others, were being taken forward at a Welsh Government and UK Government level in a wide range of Ministerial and other meetings. 

Marketing update

All Visit Wales campaign activity and press and media visits were paused in mid-March. We continue to maintain a much reduced presence on social media, concentrating on public health information and the simple message of “Visit Wales. Later”.  We will also be retweeting and sharing selected posts across platforms, from destinations, Public Health, Police and others to support the overall message.

The situation is reviewed daily and we are also putting foundation work in place to ensure that we are in the best position possible to support the industry in the short and mid-term. That work includes consideration of recovery activity that will involve our many stakeholders and partners.

Business Support:

Economic Resilience Fund

Welsh Government budgets, including Visit Wales, have been re-purposed in support of the Welsh Government £500m Economic Resilience Fund. Therefore, Visit Wales cannot provide direct support but we would encourage Associations and Destination Management Organisations to look at the forthcoming grants scheme under the Resilience Fund. Further details on how to apply for the fund will be available this week.

£100 million Development Bank of Wales loan scheme fully subscribed in first week

The COVID-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme is fully subscribed after more than 1,500 applications were received in just over one week.

The £100 million scheme was launched by the First Minister on Monday 30 March as part of the Welsh Government’s £500 million Economic Resilience Fund to support businesses in dealing with coronavirus outbreak.

The first loans were approved within three days of the fund launch, with the first loans reaching applicants by the end of last week. Find more details here.

Stay up to date with tourism industry news

We are committed to providing the support and assurance the business community needs during these unprecedented difficult times and have issued several Coronavirus (COVID-19) related bulletins which can be found here. These include:

  • 8 April: Urgent Notice to Holiday Accommodation Businesses (Amendment) / Request for Holiday Accommodation Businesses to provide accommodation for vulnerable groups
  • 2 April: Coronavirus: Tourism Industry Update
  • 30 March: New £500m Economic Resilience Fund launched for Wales
  • 27 March: Urgent Notice to Holiday Accommodation Businesses
  • 27 March: Self-employment Income Support Scheme; Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • 26 March: Coronavirus: Tourism Industry Update
  • 25 March: Urgent Notice: COVID-19 – Guidance for Holiday Park owners and operators
  • 24 March: Coronavirus Guidance on Further Businesses and Premises to Close
  • 23 March: Tough new measures to slow the spread of coronavirus introduced today
  • 19 March: Ministers announce new £1.4bn business support package
  • 12 March: Coronavirus industry information

Make sure you stay up to date with tourism industry news by following us on twitter on @VisitWalesBiz and also encourage others who may benefit, to stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter here.