An organisation set up by concerned tourism attractions in Wales during the coronavirus has declared a vote of no confidence in Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford.
The Welsh Association of Visitor attractions (WAVA) claims the decision not to allow indoor attractions to re-open will lead to job losses and force many indoor attractions into bankruptcy.
The organisation, made up of over 60 of the biggest visitor attractions in Wales, was formed in the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak to protect the sustainability of the tourism industry from the impact of the virus.
WAVA has campaigned for the re-opening of tourist attractions to follow those announced by the Government’s of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and have been critical of the Welsh Government’s handling of the re-opening strategy for the tourism industry.
Last week, Mr Drakeford did announce that people are likely to be able to book self-catering holidays in Wales from July 13.
He told holiday businesses to get prepared for his next announcement on lifting restrictions in the new review on July 10
He confirmed that the “stay local” five-mile restriction is due to be lifted on July 6, and added that he has had lengthy discussions with tourism bosses.
But WAVA warned on Wednesday that tourism in Wales was “on the brink” of collapse before the First Minister announcement.
The organisation – which includes representatives from Snowdon Mountain Railway, ZipWorld and the National Showcaves for Wales – has issued a new statement condemning the Welsh Government’s overall handling of the re-opening strategy and declared the vote of no confidence.
WAVA has also warned that the Welsh administration is “destroying the survival chances” of indoor attractions.
Ashford Price, Chair of the Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions, said: “The First Minister stated on June 19, in his regular three weekly briefings in Wales, that all Welsh attractions would be allowed to re-open on July 6 subject to the R rating remaining low.
“This information was not correct as subsequent information later revealed that all indoor Welsh attractions would be forced to remain closed.
“WAVA has worked with Visit Wales Officers regarding the present pandemic crisis. All WAVA members have agreed that the health and safety of their staff and local people must come first. The R rate is relatively low at present but if the R rate increased WAVA attractions would immediately close down on receiving advice from the Welsh Government.
“WAVA fully supports the view that health comes before anything.
“However, WAVA does not support the arbitrary ban imposed by the First Minister last Friday stating that Welsh indoor attractions cannot re-open. This decision will lead to job losses and force many indoor attractions into bankruptcy.
“To enforce this ban does not make sense as it was Visit Wales that not only encouraged but poured millions of pounds into developing indoor Welsh attractions.
As a result, WAVA requested that the detailed risk assessments of indoor attraction should undergo scrutiny on an i ndividual basis because the blanket ban imposed by the First Minister takes no account of these detailed risk assessments that indoor attractions have been working on over the past months. ”
He said that despite repeated requests from indoor attractions to be allowed to re-open, based on their individual targeted risk assessment, the first Minister has refused to consider this.
Mr Price added: “Contrast this to the First Minister announcing last Friday that shops and large departmental stores can now open.
“It does not make sense that you are now allowed in Wales to visit an indoor department store which has large numbers of shoppers all around you, but in contrast you cannot visit an indoor attraction which can control its visitor numbers with a pre-booked system as part of a WAVA risk assessment.
“It is also a fact that large stores will stay open and take revenues throughout the coming winter and Christmas period. In contrast indoor tourist attractions will have no customers when children go back to school in early September due to the seasonality of tourism.
“Indoor attractions will then have to endure a further five months of closure during the winter, having generated no income to see them survive through this period.
“The First Ministers decision is not based on a logical scientific appraisal of indoor attractions risk assessments. It is a fact however that he refuses even to have his Officers look at them. His handling of reopening the tourism industry in Wales has been sloppy and will cost the economy millions in revenue. The Welsh administration is destroying the survival chances of indoor attractions.
“It is a tragedy and highlights lack of true leadership. His decision will lead to businesses closing and hundreds being made redundant. This is why the Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions has declared no confidence in the First Minister.”
But the Welsh Government has said that a comprehensive package of measures has been announced to further ease restrictions.
A spokeswoman said: “We review the coronavirus regulations every 21 days, as we are required to by law. At the last review on 19 June, the First Minister of Wales announced a comprehensive package of measures to further ease restrictions in Wales.
“These include lifting the requirement to stay local from 6 July, if conditions allow. If this happens, this will mean people are able to travel around Wales and will allow outdoor visitor attractions to open, subject to strict social distancing and hand hygiene guidelines.
“Options for re-opening self-contained holiday accommodation will be considered at the next review of the regulations on 9 July with a view to re-opening on 13 July. We are asking the sector to use the coming weeks to prepare for re-opening.
“We have adopted a careful and gradual approach to easing the restrictions. We will be guided by the latest scientific and medical advice and will carefully monitor the impact of each change. People’s health and wellbeing is at the forefront of our approach to easing the restrictions.”