(CNN) – No airport test regime worth mentioning. A “travel corridor” policy that now allows unrestricted travel from England to only seven destinations around the world. And a second wave that looks more like a tsunami.
It’s no surprise that tourism boards across the UK have encouraged those desperately looking for a break from their daily Covid-era life to enjoy a stay to kickstart local businesses ravaged by the coronavirus.
But as winter approaches, with severe new local restrictions and the looming prospect of a second national lockdown, it’s fair to say that those in areas that haven’t been locked aren’t particularly keen on welcoming visitors To be called.
Just ask Simon Calder. “The Man Who Pays His Way” writes for the British newspaper Independent and is one of the most respected travel journalists in the country.
Calder appeared on UK television last week, recommending would-be tourists take advantage of the upcoming school break to travel to Mid Wales after the region itself encouraged visitors to book.
The result: his inbox and social media have been inundated with abuse.
“Maggots” and “absolute scum” were some of the more polite terms used by apparently angry locals. The hundreds of people who had made contact made it clear to him that they did not want visitors to come and bring Covid.
Travel writer Simon Calder was abused online after recommending Wales as a travel destination.
The infection rate in the Mid Wales region remains one of the lowest in the country, which means it has not yet been subjected to the stricter lockdown measures in the urban areas around Cardiff and Swansea, as well as in the coastal areas in the north of the country.
People in these areas are subject to travel bans. The Welsh government is currently in motion to prevent people from risk areas in Covid in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from traveling to the country.
But Wales as a whole has seen numerous expressions of reluctance to welcome tourists in the course of the pandemic – particularly in the wake of overcrowding incidents in popular locations like Mount Snowdon.
In his weekly column, Calder said he had no plans to visit Wales anytime soon.
“The Welsh government did the right thing for their country by saying we don’t want people coming in from high-risk places,” Calder says. “But this is not a free exercise. Aside from the more straightforward responses I have received, there will always be this very difficult tension between the economic needs of a community and the absolutely natural and human desire for security.”
According to Calder, travelers in the UK need to start assessing living conditions and the location they plan to travel to to reduce the chances of a frosty reception.
With restrictions seemingly changing day by day across the UK, it can be difficult to keep up.
“At the time I spoke there were no level restrictions in England and Visit Wales said ‘come to Wales’ so it didn’t find me unreasonable,” he says. “But I absolutely agree that maybe I could have chosen my words better, and I am very sorry about the stress this episode caused.”
For Val Hawkins, executive director of MWT Cymru, the regional tourism association, the story comes just weeks after headlines claimed two-thirds of Wales are closed when in fact almost three-quarters of the land per square mile, including Central Wales, isn’t.
“The problem is, it skews people’s mind and is not helpful,” she says.
“The keyboard warriors are always out there and love to comment. If we took care of it all the time, we’d never get anywhere. We’ve worked very closely with the Welsh government to make sure our companies are really well equipped [to prevent the spread of the virus].
“As early as July before the reopening, there were concerns in the community. Nobody knew exactly what was going to happen, but our tourist areas have taken people back in with no problem with the increasing numbers of infections.”
“Scare the other customers”
Scenes of crowded beaches during the summer, such as this one in Bournemouth, helped spark UK resentment against visitors.
Finnbarr Webster / Getty Images)
However, not everyone has had good experiences. Author Saurav Butt spent some time in Tenby in south-west Wales that summer and said he was viewed with suspicion.
“One evening in a very small restaurant I noticed that I was the only one sitting at a table with a face covering. Couples and other guests were moving tables, some asked to move, and the waitress even asked if I could remove the face covering when it “scared the other customers,” he says.
When he called a few days later to rebook another meal, Butt said his name had been recognized. “I was told if I should come that I should make sure I had a coronavirus test and should only come if I tested negative.”
Butt says he had a similar experience in Suffolk on the east coast of England, where he was approached on the street about wearing a mask. Locals suggested that he had coronavirus symptoms.
He says he will not be staying again.
“It’s a lot of work for something that has no real value.”
“The reception was even warmer than usual”
Many parts of Wales still welcome visitors.
GEOFF CADDICK / AFP via Getty Images
Even so, other Staycationers say the locals were more than happy to see them.
Megan Eaves, a London-based writer and consultant, went to Tintern in the Welsh region of Monmouthshire and was impressed with the action taken by pubs, restaurants and hotels, as well as the reactions from the area’s residents.
“If anything, it almost felt like the reception was even warmer than usual,” she says. “All of the companies were very grateful for our custom, and we spoke to almost everyone we met.”
“As humans, we all now have a common trauma that creates instant connections with others,” she adds. “There weren’t many other visitors and travelers, but those we encountered showed good behavior and followed the rules and regulations for safety, which made us confident. This was helped by the fact that this was an inherently short break isolated from other people in an area that has not yet been overrun by other tourists after the lockdown. I chose this destination for that reason. “
Nutrition trainer Sonal Ambasna found it similar in the more popular Brecon Beacons National Park, which, despite initial concerns, traverses much of South Wales.
“Before we left, we heard that Wales, and the Brecon Beacons in particular, were very busy and that the police had been called to control the crowd at some tourist spots. Fortunately, we were warmly welcomed by the locals who came over and there was certainly no visible concern about the presence of tourists that we spotted. “
Find a balance
The Ambasna and Eaves experience echoes the approach Val Hawkins has tried in Mid Wales by balancing local concerns with the need to attract tourists to stimulate an economy that has suffered in 2020.
“Tourism is important to us, but caring for the community is paramount,” she says. “Our business has been careful and the people who want to come to the area have been fantastic.”
Hawkins admits she “could have done without the Simon Calder stuff,” but says that there is an opportunity for a safe and welcoming vacation to Mid Wales, as long as people use common sense and don’t travel out of risk areas.
“It’s a difficult time for everyone, not just in Wales. We still have a long way to go so it would be a good way to help everyone.”
“It’s an incredibly difficult balance,” agrees Calder. “It is clear that there are a lot of businesses and people in Wales that rely on tourists for work and a living. Do you come second after people who are worried about their health? There are none at all simple answers. And so maybe the suggestion by some people that there is a simple answer, “We’re closed and will tell you when we want you back,” isn’t necessarily very helpful. “
However, the question that remains is whether anyone would even want to go to the UK if coronavirus cases increase. And if so, will the locals accept them? A long winter awaits you.