Cornwall tourism: 8 in 10 businesses could go bust unless lockdown lifted by July – expert

As might be expected, an example of pressure from the tourism industry to open up the economy.

Owl’s view is that tourism is the “icing on the cake” and shouldn’t be seen as the bedrock of a successful and sustainable local economy, though it suits “a few” very well. (This 2017 post is also relevant)

This probably accounts for the recent analysis that 31% of jobs in East Devon were at risk.

Laura O’Callaghan 

Cornwall: Coronavirus’ impact on tourism revealed by expert

Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, said if the nationwide lockdown is not lifted by summer many employers in the county will have reached the point of no return. During and around the Easter holidays the population of Cornwall usually jumps by about a third due to tourism.

But this year has played host to an unprecedented period with hotels, caravan parks, restaurants and pubs forced to close and a local campaign urging visitors to stay away over fears they could spread coronavirus.

The loss of custom has meant the local industry is down about £300 million.

And Mr Bell predicts Cornwall tourism industry could be setback more than £1 billion if premises are not allowed to reopen for the peak months.

He told Sky News: “For the worst-case scenario, which we hope will never happen, if this went through to August we would be talking about £1.2 billion worth of loss.

“According to our research it would be the end of 80 percent of the businesses.”

Mr Bell described how many businesses in one of England’s most popular tourism destinations have found themselves at “their lowest cash point”.

He said many owners in Cornwall have been inching closer to their overdraft limit and have been hit with a double whammy.

While the money is not coming in due to their business being ordered to close, customers who have paid in full or a deposit are seeking refunds.

Coronavirus: Expert discusses ‘worrying’ impact on tourism

Mr Bell added: “Many businesses are at their lowest cash point – they’ve gone through their winter eking out the cash.”

“It’s actually worse than that – many businesses are close to their overdraft limit and of course now not only is no money coming in, you’ve got customers wanting their money back.

“Many businesses invested heavily during the winter.”

Mr Bell told predicts the loss of businesses could be reduced to five percent if the lockdown was lifted by May or June at the latest.

“Two-thirds of income is made in spring and summer,” he added.

Locals in the south-west county have been pushing the #ComeBackLater campaign urging non-residents to stay away until the COVID-19 outbreak is under control.

There has been anger towards Britons with second homes in the picturesque county who have retreated from cities at the risk of spreading the virus to locals.

On Monday, Cornwall Council issued a statement encouraging holidaymakers to postpone their trips instead of cancelling.

Council leader Rob Nolan said: “We are hearing that many people who have booked accommodation directly with holiday businesses have agreed that, rather than cancel their intended visit which was due to have taken place during the lockdown period, they will change dates or keep the booking open until the current lockdown is lifted.”

“These voluntary arrangements show that many customers are keen to have a holiday in Cornwall to look forward to once the current restrictions are lifted.

“By being flexible they have in-turn helped those businesses who are affected due to the financial impact of the current situation.

“Holiday accommodation businesses value their customers so will be working with them to give them the best possible service, but things may take a bit longer than usual to sort out because of the unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in.”

Last Thursday the Government extended the coronavirus lockdown for “at least” three weeks.