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Coronavirus: Tourism tensions ‘could put industry at risk’


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Coronavirus: Tourism tensions ‘could put industry at risk’

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption”Tourists might not return if they feel unwelcome”, warns academicAs tensions between locals and tourists rise in rural areas, there are warnings the industry could be at risk if visitors are not made welcome.Locals in Morfa Nefyn, on Gwynedd’s Llyn Peninsula, say this year has been the…

Coronavirus: Tourism tensions ‘could put industry at risk’

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption“Tourists might not return if they feel unwelcome”, warns academic

As tensions between locals and tourists rise in rural areas, there are warnings the industry could be at risk if visitors are not made welcome.

Locals in Morfa Nefyn, on Gwynedd’s Llyn Peninsula, say this year has been the busiest season they have ever seen.

But with every weekend drawing bank holiday-sized crowds, it is causing tension.

The Welsh Government said the priority is to “grow tourism by listening to residents, visitors and businesses”.

Professor Michael Woods, director of centre for Welsh politics and society at Aberystwyth University, said: “If people are getting the message coming into rural Wales that they’re not welcome, they’re not going to come back.

“Yes, we need to think about diversifying the economy in future but we need to be careful and manage it in such a way that we aren’t undermining the economy we have already in rural Wales.”

Image caption

Tourists in Nefyn said it was much busier this year but were “not too worried”

Lois Llywelyn Williams, a student at Oxford University, said after returning home for the summer she has noticed “tensions have certainly come up”.

“Every conversation I have in recent weeks has been about the increase in people here, the traffic is seriously heavy and the lack of social distancing,” she said.

Second homes concern

Image caption

Locals are worried about the number of visitors and second homes in the area

Iwan ap Llyfnwy runs Cwrw Llyn in nearby Nefyn. The company was set up with employment for local people in mind, but he says they are dependent on tourism.

“Tourism is great. We welcome everybody here, and we’re dependent on them as a business, but the issue of second homes worries me,” he said.

“I’ve got children myself and I tend to worry how are the next generation going to afford to buy their first property.”

Gwyneth Hughes, who has run a clothes shop in Morfa Nefyn for 35 years, added: “I welcome the tourists, but we don’t want it to be overcrowded. We want it to be safe.”

Image caption

Shop owner Gwyneth Hughes says safety is the priority

Elfed Roberts is a local businessman, running Spar shops across the peninsula and is currently developing new business units in Nefyn. He wants local people to start businesses there to create jobs for local people.

“My heart is saying one thing and my head another,” he said.

“My heart is saying we don’t want people here, just to safeguard ourselves but my head says we need them here, we need people spending here in order to support the jobs of the people I employ at the moment.”

On a clear day, you can see Anglesey from the beach at Morfa Nefyn, another area of Wales which welcomes thousands of tourists every year.

Virginia Crosbie, the Conservative MP for Ynys Mon, said she is delighted to hear the hotels and caravan sites are welcoming lots of tourists but recognises that the industry does not provide the highly skilled jobs the island needs.

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“There’s a significant dependence on tourism here and that makes the economy very focussed on the summer months and it makes the winter really, really tough,” she said.

“So, for the young people here, I want to ensure that if they are ambitious they can stay on the island, that’s why I’m focussed on trying to deliver those high skilled jobs.”

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