Harlech holiday park family joins call for Wales tourism survival package
A long, bleak winter for holiday parks in Wales has been forecast by a Harlech holiday park owner who is supporting calls for an aid package from the Welsh Government.
Chris Locker, director of Woodlands Caravan Park, says Plaid Cymru is right in its demand for a “financial kick-starter” to boost Welsh tourism after the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Locker, who chairs the Clwyd branch of the British Holidays & Home Parks Association, says many tourism businesses in Wales will struggle to make it through this winter without help.
Even when the lockdown is eventually lifted and families are able to take a much needed break, he believes, the tourism industry will by then have lost “a significant portion” of their 2020 income
“The Welsh Government needs to help sustain tourism businesses for much longer than the lockdown to protect jobs in the sector and those of other firms which rely on it,” said Mr Locker.
“When parks are allowed to re-open, for many it will be for the first time since last autumn – and they will already have missed out on their prime visitor months this year.
“A support package will be needed which takes these businesses through to the start of the 2021 season.
“The kick-starter concept being put forward by Plaid Cymru is realistic and practical, and will give our industry the best chance of staging a full recovery.
“Only by doing so will we be able to resume generating the tourism revenues which underpin many of Wales’s rural economies, and upon which many other businesses rely,” he said.
Mr Locker pointed out that a recent economic survey of his sector showed that parks in Wales produce over £1.3 billion of revenue annually, and support more than 26,000 jobs.
He added the parks would also benefit from flexibility in the furlough scheme which would allow essential maintenance and security work to be carried out by their staff.
Mr Locker runs Woodlands with his brother Thomas and father Mike, and have created award-winning surroundings on their park, located at the base of Harlech Castle.
Guests are drawn from both sides of the Welsh border, and can rent one of the park’s fully equipped holiday cottages, or enjoy the area for many years to come in their own holiday caravan.
“Our business is not unlike many others in Wales where the owners have invested a great deal of time and energy into giving visitors the best possible experience.
“It would be tragic if years of hard work were to be thrown away, and I believe that the kick-starter programme would be an investment in the entire future of Wales,” said Mr Locker.