Keep clear: Visit Cornwall is urging visitors to stay away from Mevagissey and the rest of the county
Keep clear: Visit Cornwall is urging visitors to stay away from Mevagissey and the rest of the county

Coronavirus: Visit Cornwall tells tourists to ‘stay away’

Tourism body says government has failed to give ‘clarity about whether going for a short break or a holiday in the UK is deemed to be non-essential travel’

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 20 March 2020 20:55

Cornwall has become the first major UK tourism destination to tell visitors to stay away until the coronavirus crisis is over.

Visit Cornwall published a statement saying: “Visitors should not come to Cornwall at this time, in order to slow the spread of the virus, to protect themselves, as well as the communities of Cornwall.”

The organisation is critical of the government’s “lack of clarity” about whether domestic tourism is acceptable.

On 16 March, the prime minister said: “Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.”

But Visit Cornwall says: “At present non-essential travel appears to focus purely on the use of public transport.

“It does not provide any clarity about whether going for a short break or a holiday in the UK is deemed to be non-essential travel.

“Given the fast escalating situation, Visit Cornwall believes that a holiday or short break should be deemed as non-essential travel.

“This would avoid the confusion that currently exists and mean that customers’ personal travel insurance should reimburse visitors who choose to cancel rather than postpone their holiday.

“We are asking people to postpone visiting Cornwall until a later date, when they will find Cornwall the same beautiful and welcoming place.”

The Cornish attitude is in marked contrast to the other side of the River Tamar.

Visit Devon is telling prospective tourists: “Devon is very much open to visitors and we invite you to come and walk across our beautiful countryside, get some fresh air on our stunning beaches and enjoy our county by remaining aware of social distancing and protecting yourselves and your family by regularly washing your hands.”

The Plaid Cymru leader in Westminster, Liz Saville Roberts MP, has written to the health secretary urging him “to issue an immediate no-travel directive”. There are concerns that second-home owners are choosing to self-isolate at their properties in Wales, potentially adding to pressures on overstretched rural health services.

Tourist destinations elsewhere in Britain are still seeking to attract visitors. For example, Visit Blackpool says: “The resort remains very much open for business.

“Blackpool’s famed range of free attractions are also open including the beaches, promenade, Comedy Carpet and Stanley Park.”

Visit Scotland says: “In light of Covid-19, it’s unlikely we’ll be welcoming as many visitors as our friendly, passionate and unique country deserves.

“If you are planning a trip to Scotland in the next few months ... make sure you check with your travel and accommodation providers before travelling.”

With good weather forecast for Mother’s Day weekend, the National Trust says: “The Trust’s coast and countryside places will be open as usual with any car park charges suspended and the charity is working where it can to keep outdoor spaces open and free to access.”

The charity’s nature expert and writer, Andy Beer, said: “Although our coast and countryside will be open as usual, we’d encourage people to stay local and enjoy the first moments of spring where they are rather than making an unnecessary journey.”

Earlier this week the National Trust announced that it would close its houses, shops and cafes to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

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