Tourism braced for half-term hit as high infection area visitors told to stay away
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015
Beleaguered tourism businesses hoping for a half-term boost are braced for lower numbers with tourists from parts of the country with higher levels of coronavirus being asked not to travel.
Despite attractions reliant on visitors desperately needing the trade as they look to make up lockdown losses, people from Tier 3 areas, including Liverpool, Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire, are being told to stay away and those from places in Tier 2, including London, are not being encouraged to visit.
Pete Waters, executive director at Visit East of England, which promotes tourism across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, said the new tier system had come into force in the midst of a £500,000 marketing campaign.
He told Radio Norfolk: “Last week we were about to launch the second stage of that which was all about extending the season through to the end of this year, but we decided amongst ourselves, all the destination marketing organisations working together, that we would postpone that for now because we find ourselves in a very difficult position.”
MORE: Should people from areas with high infection rates come to Norfolk?He added: “We can’t be too careful and public safety is paramount. But it is school holidays next week and the visitor economy sector is desperate for a good half-term to make up for the shortfalls from earlier in the year.
“We had a great summer from July onwards, when lockdown ended, but we don’t yet know if it’s enough to make businesses viable going through into next year.”
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At a meeting of Norfolk County Council’s scrutiny committee on Tuesday, Sandra Squire, leader of the independent group, asked whether the council should urge visitors, including second home owners, to postpone half-term trips whilst also encouraging local people to support tourist business.
Tom McCabe, executive director for community and environmental services, said visitors from Tier 2 areas are being neither encouraged or discouraged as people in those areas are still legally allowed to travel.
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He added: “However tourism partners, including Norfolk County Council continue to stress that any visitors, both from within Norfolk or beyond, must abide by all restrictions and use consideration and common sense at all times.
“Overall, and following the significant investment made during the summer, our primary message continues to be that health and safety for all is the paramount concern.
“We are also encouraging Norfolk residents to enjoy days out on their doorstep rather than travel large distances.”
Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group and chair of the scrutiny committee, said: “I know there are varying views around this, but the most important thing is that Norfolk is kept safe.
“We have done comparatively well so far and we would like to keep it that way.
MORE: Attractions scale back half-term activities because of Covid“If these people thinking of coming to Norfolk can avoid doing so, I think it would be very helpful for us, for them and for the future.
“All of the decisions seem to be about a fortnight behind what should be happening. Our infection rates are behind the rates for the country and what we don’t want is to discover, in the fortnight after half-term, that we have an unexpected spike, which would put the kibosh on whatever is left of Christmas.
“I’d want a message spread that it’s better not to come to Norfolk, and if people do come to Norfolk, can you be very, very careful and very safe.”