My view: There has been a range of anti-tourist sentiment expressed on social media, the vitriol of which strikes me as unnecessary. As with everyone else, tourists are only now being made fully aware of the implications of Coronavirus and the requirement to socially distance themselves by not travelling. Government is providing help and information now, but for a good while, it wasn’t. We are all learning as we go along, and the situation and guidance changes by the day from both government and tourist information offices.
I can see that because parts of the SW are under-populated, social distancing might seem easier down here to someone living in the cities and larger towns, but as the Council points out, and what people from outside are probably unaware of, our infrastructure cannot cope with large numbers of seriously ill people (which is a likely outcome of not self-distancing). Our hospitals are many, many miles away and public transport is a nightmare at the best of times; the area has traditionally been underfunded. So, lots of reasons not to come to Cornwall (and Devon) right now, thank you, visitors.
Desperate folk working in tourism are trying to save their livelihoods because the simple fact is that economic meltdown will also cause immense suffering in Cornwall.
As the crisis continues, increasing numbers of socially-responsible accommodation providers are cancelling bookings and not taking any more for the present – this will destroy some businesses. Small fry compared to lives but with a massive impact on the people concerned, nonetheless. Many are being socially responsible at great personal cost, so let’s not make it any harder for them.
Condemning tourists on social media will not help; they may decide not to come at all if that’s the treatment they get, and then, life gets really, really hard in future. Those vilified accommodation providers, which includes hotels, self-catering and B & B, are the people whose properties provide the bread and butter for many other businesses relying on their visitors, so a bit of compassion all round, while being as sensible as possible and following official advice helps us all.
My suggestion for tourists to best help themselves and others is to not visit right now but to also not demand accommodation refunds, but request an alternative booking at a later date as a replacement. That means, visitors get heir holiday when the time is right, and those in the tourism and hospitality industries are left with hope for a brighter future. Meanwhile, locals need to support their own communities as best they can. This fits Cornwall Council’s advice on deferral.
From Cornwall Council:
Cornwall prides itself on being an open and welcoming place, but during these unprecedented times, we ask that anyone planning a trip to Cornwall consider deferring their visit and avoid all but essential travel.
As the restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus begin to be implemented across the country we are aware of the huge impact this is having on the tourism and hospitality sector in Cornwall. We are already seeing businesses close and redundancies made.
However, we are also aware that additional visitors to Cornwall at this time will potentially put extra pressure on public services, including the NHS.
Visit Cornwall has been considering the scenarios for several weeks, but it is now clearer how this will impact on the UK and Cornwall significantly in the next three to six months.
Our advice is for visitors to plan to come to Cornwall later in the year when more of our facilities are open for business, trading normally, and when visitors will get the high-quality experience they associate with coming to Cornwall.
We urge anyone considering travelling to Cornwall in the coming days and weeks to think carefully about the implications of being removed from your normal social network during the coronavirus period, the risk of not being able to travel back home as planned, to be aware that supermarkets are experiencing the same pressures here as elsewhere, and consider the added pressure on public services in a rural area which this travel may cause.
We urge people to delay their visit to Cornwall to a later stage. This will also reassure our communities that we are doing everything possible to contain the spread of Coronavirus over the next few weeks.
Welcoming visitors back to Cornwall will be key to our economic recovery.
But the Government needs to act in order to support tourism businesses through this difficult time.
Cornwall Council, Visit Cornwall and the Local Enterprise Partnership will continue to work in partnership to support the sector and our communities through this difficult period.