Coronavirus: Lockdown review gives Wales tourism sector 'hope'

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media captionWales' tourist industry 'ready' for July reopening

The tourism industry in Wales will have to take advantage of any opportunity to make money after lockdown restrictions ease, a boss in the sector says.

Andrew Campbell, of the Wales Tourism Alliance, said 97% of businesses have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and 80% of staff furloughed.

"People are suffering," he added.

But he said there was a "huge sense of relief on Friday" when the first minister suggested parts of the industry may reopen in July.

Non-essential shops reopen from Monday, although people must stay local and are advised not to travel further than five miles in Wales.

Further relaxation of the rules is expected to allow people to visit outdoor tourist attractions and travel to accommodation, such as caravans, and holiday homes.

However, any changes have to be confirmed after the next review of lockdown measures on 9 July.

Mr Campbell said: "We have lost an awful lot... we've lost Easter, we've lost two bank holidays.

"This was really kicking in before we had the lockdown because people were starting to work from home.

"We had a drop off of international visitors, so we got hit very hard really early on.

"People are really suffering. It's a very, very desperate situation so there was a huge sense of relief on Friday."

He said any "opportunity to make some income during the height of the season is going to be valuable".

"It's about giving hope and the first minister gave us hope and we just need to build on that."

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image captionPeople can now book stays in Wales after 13 July

Tourism in Wales generated £6.2bn in 2018 and employed about 132,000.

But it has been closed for business since March when lockdown began.

It has meant some of Wales' honeypot spots, such as Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons, and the Pembrokeshire Coast national parks have been shut to most visitors.

Parts of the Beacons and Pembrokeshire parks have started re-opening some areas, but they are still only accessibly to those living locally for now.

However, the first minister announced a further relaxation of some lockdown rules on Friday which could help the sector.

He signalled self-contained holiday accommodation, such as static caravans and holiday cottages, could be the first to reopen and start accepting bookings for 13 July.

It could be a huge boost to the sector, especially in traditional seaside resorts, such as Rhyl and Llandudno in north Wales, down to destinations on Gower, Porthcawl and Tenby in south and west Wales.

Mr Drakeford agreed the tourism industry "has had a terrible couple of months".

"So anything that can be done to be able to rescue more from what is left of this summer for them would be very welcome," he told BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement programme.

"But it will come on the back of what has been a very torrid time for the industry."

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