With the new tourist season fast approaching, Preseli MP Stephen Crabb has spoken of his serious concerns about the impact on local business from the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Crabb has spoken to numerous leisure and hospitality businesses in Pembrokeshire over the last week who are increasingly alarmed at the cancellations and slower-than-normal bookings they are seeing.
In last week’s Budget, the UK Government announced a support package for businesses, including zero business rates for 12 months. However, as these measures follow business rates legislation, they currently only apply in England. The Welsh Government are in charge of business rates here, and money has been made available for Welsh Ministers to bring in the same support but so far no announcement has been forthcoming from Cardiff.
During the Budget debate, Stephen spoke of his concerns about local tourism businesses, adding: “Many of them lose money during the winter months and earn their money during the strong summer season, and they are already reporting to me that bookings are down. Where bookings have been made, they are often secured only by 30% deposits. The fear is that this will prove to be a very challenging few months as businesses struggle to bring in cash.”
Following the Budget and further discussions with local businesses, Stephen Crabb said: “In the same way that all the Health Ministers across the UK have been working together on a nationwide strategy for tackling coronavirus, there needs to be a joined-up UK-wide strategy for supporting those businesses which will face difficulties in the coming months.
“Pembrokeshire’s tourism industry is a vital part of our local economy and the whole County does well when we have a strong season. The package announced by the Chancellor was a good start and needs to followed through here in Wales but I fear that more support will be necessary given how long this crisis may go on for and the downturn in travel we are expecting.”
“I also want to see Ministers providing clearer daily advice to business. There is so much nonsense and wrong information circulating online. Businesses just want clarity on how they can carry on trading safely and what they need to do to support staff who are self-isolating.”