LAST month, Gwynedd Council leaders met to discuss the county’s tourism strategy going forward, writes Charlie Evans, Conservative candidate for Dwyfor Meririonnydd.
Comments were made about reducing the number of visitors that come to Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula and they also talked about wanting to see a better quality of visitor.
Many hospitality and tourism businesses I speak to in Dwyfor Meirionnydd have been genuinely alarmed at the perceived anti-tourism language Gwynedd’s council chiefs seemingly adopt so freely.
The tourism and hospitality sector is worth £1.35 billion to Gwynedd’s economy and employs 20,000 people.
But these are the only direct benefits of the visitor economy.
Only the other day, I was speaking to a printing company whose revenue has been nearly wiped out due to the hospitality sector being closed. Then you’ve got the electricians, engineers, plumbers, builders, landscapers- I could go on- whose incomes are also supported by the industry.
Any attempts to shrink the sector will not “improve the quality”- it will mean fewer jobs, more businesses filing for bankruptcy and a further lack of opportunity for working people.
I am also alarmed at the elitism in all of this- what do they mean by a better quality?
Does that mean they would prefer couples from the leafy suburbs of Chelsea to come and stay who will spend a fortune, compared with the working-class family from the Wirral who have little disposable income but nonetheless want a well-deserved holiday?
Such questions are not rhetorical- they need answering.
One thing the Council cites, and I agree with them on this, is the chronic lack of opportunity.
In my own campaign to be elected Dwyfor Meirionnydd’s Member of the Senedd, the expansion of opportunity is its central pillar.
But you do this by working tirelessly to create the conditions for that to happen- faster broadband, better schools, strong public services, financial incentives for start-ups, business rate holidays, affordable housing, the list is endless.
You do not do that by looking to shrink the size of the hospitality and tourism sector.
Council chiefs arguing for reducing the output from this brilliant industry would be like Neath-Port Talbot saying they need to start producing less steel.
Discussions about this are out-of-touch with the reality we face now – today.
Such conversations are academic- they may belong in university seminars but they should not be spoken from the lips of politicians who are there to represent the 20,000 people employed in the hospitality and tourism sector.
All of our energies need to be focused on bouncing-back from this dreadful pandemic.
Let’s get ready for the great Welsh and British staycation season and cheer on Dwyfor Meirionnydd’s businesses in 2021 and beyond.