Tourism bosses are urging visitors to stay away from Cornwall – warning an influx of thousands of holidaymakers could help spread coronavirus.
Visit Cornwall said taking a vacation now would increase the demand on supermarkets in the county and could also see further pressures on the NHS should visitors fall ill.
The organisation said the tourism and hospitality sector in Cornwall was already suffering as a result of the pandemic with some businesses having made workers redundant or even closed.
“Cornwall prides itself on being an open and welcoming place, but during these unprecedented times we ask that anyone planning a trip to Cornwall consider deferring their visit and avoid all but essential travel,” it said.
“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.
“Our advice is for visitors to plan to come to Cornwall later in the year when more of our facilities are open for business, trading normally, and when visitors will get the high-quality experience they associate with coming to Cornwall.”
— Visit Cornwall B2B (@VC_B2B) March 20, 2020
The plea was echoed by Councillor Julian German, leader of Cornwall Council, and Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay.
In a joint statement, they said: “We need to stop spread of this virus and also need to protect our NHS and keep our supermarket shelves stocked.
“An influx of thousands of tourists in the coming weeks will put unnecessary pressure on our services.
“As a supporter of the tourism and hospitality industry we fully understand the huge and grave challenges facing the sector at this time and why some businesses may want to take this opportunity to bring visitors to Cornwall.
“However, this is first and foremost a medical and health crisis.”
Meanwhile, a call has gone out to support Cornish fishermen and for people to buy local sustainable seafood.
The Cornwall Wildlife Trust said export markets have dried up and the local restaurant trade had been hit by people following Government advice to cut back on socialising.
Matt Slater, from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: “This is crunch time for many of our fishermen and it is crazy that this valuable source of marine protein is not better appreciated locally.
“We really hope that local markets can be improved to benefit struggling fishermen and seafood businesses during this unprecedented, challenging time.”