Results of Tourism Operators survey

Just in case any of our Members haven’t seen it, we have received this message from Brecon Beacons Tourism following the distribution of their survey last week:

“Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the tourism operators survey that Brecon Beacons Tourism sent out the end of last week.   

“We have been overwhelmed by the number of surveys sent back with a total of 525 of responses from tourism businesses right across Wales.  The data makes pretty devastating reading. Please find the survey report below. 

What happens next?

“This report is being sent to decision makers including the Welsh Secretary, Welsh Government and Visit Wales, with whom we have established contacts. Our objective is to influence the decision makers so that the £400m pot that has been announced is distributed quickly to with tourism at the forefront.  It will also be communicated that further support will be needed from the Government if this outbreak continues longer than 3 months. 

“We will continue to keep you all updated on any further developments and rest assured Brecon Beacons Tourism will continue to lobby the Government on your behalf. Please feel free to share the findings of this report with anyone who you feel could assist in getting the funds we need so that our industry can weather this storm. Special thanks to all who were involved in working over the weekend to put this report together. so quickly.”

Brecon Beacons Tourism

Press Release:
Tourism Survey reveals that 86% of Welsh tourism businesses will not survive a long closure.
 
The largest ever ‘grass roots’ survey into the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences for the Welsh tourism industry has been carried out with responses coming  from Tourism Associations, businesses, and individuals across Wales.  525 responses were received within 24 hours, an unprecedented number for such a survey which was sent out to over 1,000 tourism businesses.
 
Welsh tourism fully understands and agrees with the decision to close down tourism in Wales, however, listed below are the consequences for Welsh tourism following this decision. Operators also acknowledge with gratitude the removal of business rates, and for the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.’ 
 
Main results from the survey.
 
The recipients were asked the following questions
 
In the current economic climate how confident are you that your business can survive until September.  82% said NO.  18% said YES.
 
In the current economic climate how confident are you that your business can survive until Easter 2021. 86% said NO.  14% said YES.
 
How would you rate your cash flow for your business?   28% struggling to pay bills now. 27% overdraft nearing maximum limit. 24% can survive for 3 months. 16% can survive for 6 months.   5% can survive for a maximum of 12 months.    
In the survey we asked them to list their concerns, and these are highlighted below.  
 
One of the main concerns operators reported back to the survey was that during the winter they had spent tens of thousands of pounds getting their tourism businesses ready for the 2020 season. 
 
Then with no warning, and just before they were about to open the tourist season was cancelled, along with all their bookings. The grim reality for many is  that they now have massive overdrafts, no potential income, and a requirement to repay back their overdrafts.  Many also stated that they were already paying mortgages or rent for their businesses, and questioned whether it was prudent to take on even more debt? 
 
Operators appreciate that there are loans available from banks but when they contacted their bank many found them far from helpful. Some banks even want operators to put their own homes up as security for any loan. 
 
What the survey further revealed was that for the majority of tourism operators the last time they had generated any income was in October 2019, some 6 months ago. 
 
The present pandemic situation in Wales means no one knows when, or even if tourism can restart in 2020.  Respondents reported increased levels of anxiety, stress, and depression with concerns for their future mental health.
 
If the entire 2020 season is lost due to the possibility of the Covid-19 pandemic lingering on, many operators stated they would be bankrupt. 
 
The Welsh Government are promising cash grant aid soon, but the criteria for this grant has yet to be disclosed.     
 
Survey respondents reported back that when the tourist season ends in October operators normally have bank accounts that are in credit, and it is this money that tides them over to the following April when tourism restarts in Wales. 
 
However, many are questioning if tourism will be allowed to reopen this year.  Should the above be the case, many asked how will they get through the coming winter?
 
If tourism cannot reopen during the latter part of this summer many operators stated that they would be unable to open for Easter 2021, as by then they would have accrued enormous debts, and were fearful of being forced into bankruptcy.  
 
Many operators also reported to the survey that they feared they would eventually be forced to put their businesses up for sale as this might be the only way of repaying their debts. However, many also doubted if there would be many buyers for their tourism businesses in the short term. 
 
The survey revealed that a great many operators had thought that their business interruption insurance policy would cover them for this pandemic. However, insurance companies are refusing to pay out. This decision has caused great anger and resentment to many in tourism.
 
The survey went on to reveal that many operators are suggesting that when tourism is finally allowed to reopen, that the British tourism rates for VAT are immediately reduced in line with the lower VAT levels for tourism found in other European countries.
 
Finally, many operators were very disappointed with the lack of initial leadership by Visit Wales and the Welsh Government. 
 
Many also felt that few AM’s, MP’s, or industry leaders had stood up and offered any help, support, or comfort for a tourist industry that is now on its knees.
 
Press release ends.
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Additional information.
Not many in Welsh political circles really appreciate the enormous value of tourism to Wales. (Wales spends less on marketing tourism than the other devolved governments.)
 
Hence, it is fair to make comparisons highlighting the immediate concerns shown by AM’s and MP’s to the potential threat of closure for the Port Talbot steel works about a year ago, which at that time was threatening 4000 jobs, and losing a £1million pounds per day.
 
Compare the above to the Welsh tourism industry, which at that time was employing  120.000 people, and bringing in £6.32bn a year to Wales.  For every day the tourism industry operates in Wales it produces approximately £17m in revenue for the Welsh economy. 
 
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This report has been compiled from a survey sent to various Welsh Tourism Associations, businesses, and individuals across the length and breadth of Wales by Ashford Price (Chairman, The National Showcaves Centre for Wales). If more information is required, please contact Ashford Price on 07989 855 313

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