North Somerset tourism groups have warned small local businesses will not survive if visitors are encouraged to avoid seaside towns as part of lockdown lifting strategy.
With the towns of Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon together welcoming seven million visitors and contributing £400m per year to the local economy, any lack of clarity in government could be “severely damaging.” “The lockdown is going to have a major effect on tourism businesses and many are concerned they will not survive,” Visit Weston tourism manager Caroline Darlington told the Bristol Post. “Many of the smaller businesses, especially those who cannot diversify, are very concerned.”
“Once we have a clearer directive from the government about when it is going to relax the restrictions we will implement a disaster recovery plan straight away”
The concerns come after guidance issued by MP Michael Gove stated seaside resorts cannot welcome visitors “for some time” after movement restrictions are relaxed.
“The pier has been mothballed since the order to lock down was announced,” said Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust chair Phil Curme. “Over the next three months we expect to lose around £70,000 in revenue and if the restrictions continue into the summer we are looking at losing substantially more.”
“The summer season, particularly the school holidays, is the busiest time for us and this means we will have a problem in supporting our day to day costs.
“It will also impact on our long term maintenance plan which keeps the pier open and safe.
“A prolonged period of closure is potentially severely damaging to the pier.”
And supporting businesses too are feeling very concerned. Mager and Sons, who operate donkey rides on the beach going back generations, have effectively furloughed their 50 donkeys, and don’t anticipate a return to the sands of Weston until “July or August”.