By Dewi Morris
Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary for State, has sent a letter to Senedd Members and local authority leaders urging them to place pressure on Mark Drakeford to ‘set out a roadmap’ for re-opening the tourism sector. Without a pathway for easing tourism restriction, Hart warns ‘businesses will not be able to plan, and job losses will become inevitable.’
The tourism industry is estimated to be worth £3 billion to the Welsh economy and directly employs 100,000 people in Wales. The Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions (WAVA) have written to Mark Drakeford warning that remaining closed for the 2020 summer season would be ‘catastrophic’ to the industry.
Reactions to Simon Hart’s letter have been divided. A Welsh Government spokesperson has said: “We thank Mr Hart for his advice, but the First Minister makes decisions based on safety and science rather than lobbying efforts by UK Government Ministers.” Senedd Presiding Officer, Elin Jones, shared a similar sentiment, accusing Hart’s letter of being a ‘political tactic’. In response she tweeted: ‘I decide on my own representations on behalf of my constituents and do not need to be told what to do by a UK Secretary of State.’
This follows on from claims that maintaining a ‘four-nation’ approach is proving difficult, Mark Drakeford claims no contact has been made with UK ministers since the 28th of May. Boris Johnson has not held conversations with leaders of Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland since the end of May. However, No. 10 have insisted a ‘four-nation’ approach has continued.
The Welsh Government has yet to set out a clear timetable for reopening the tourism sector in Wales.
Mark Drakeford has said that he will address the tourism industry in his announcement on Friday. Leading Wednesday’s Welsh Government briefing, Eluned Morgan stated “We will do what is right for Wales, when it is right for Wales.” She claims, “the reason why there hasn’t been a fixed date [on re-opening the tourism sector] is because we’re following the science.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson has said that the Welsh Government, along with other devolved governments, have been ‘fiercely lobbying for additional financial support from the UK government,’ and that re-opening the tourism industry ‘is at the front of our minds.