A west Wales Senedd member is confident visitors will return to Pembrokeshire, despite concerns from a local MP over the long-term impact of some of the ‘stay away’ messaging.

In a recent video conference Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb and Paul Davies MS spoke with 22 tourism and hospitality businesses, as well as representatives from Pembrokeshire County Council and the National Park, to discuss the outlook for businesses which depend on large numbers of visitors coming to the area.

The conference call gave businesses the opportunity to speak directly to their MP and MS, raising their experiences, concerns and what they need from all levels of government to ensure their long-term security.

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Following the meeting, Stephen Crabb said: “The tourism and hospitality sector is a key part of the Pembrokeshire economy and one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. It was important to hear directly from them about the challenges they are facing.

"There is strong support from business for the lockdown measures at this time, but also a growing concern about the tone of the ‘stay away’ message on some social media.

"They want to see a big push to get visitors back when it is safe to do so."

Mr Crabb said the council and National Park are thinking about positive marketing campaigns for the future, but added:"We will have a lot of ground to make up and I hope that circumstances will allow for at least some tourism activity later on in the season.”

Paul Davies MS added the Welsh Government needed to come forward with a detailed strategy for the tourism sector.

He said:"Neglecting the needs of the tourism industry is simply not an option and so I will be calling on the Welsh Government to come forward with some concrete proposals to protect the sector in the short term and support it further in the longer term.”

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Eluned Morgan MS (Labour Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales) said she has every confidence that visitors will return to the county when it is safe to do so, but urged that this has to be with the consent of west Wales communities.

Commenting on the impact COVID-19 is having on the tourism sector, Eluned Morgan MS said: “Pembrokeshire has a fantastic visitor record. It is one of Wales’ most important holiday destinations and is responsible for thousands of jobs and supporting the wider economy.

“Over the last few weeks, I have been in regular contact with tourism leaders, the National Parks and our local councils to discuss the issues affecting our economy as the Covid-19 restrictions continue. I’m listening to the views of the sector and residents alike and I’m feeding those comments into Welsh Government as we plan how to ease lockdown in Wales.

“Right now, the focus has to be on protecting public health. We can only loosen the lockdown restrictions when it is safe to do so and with the consent of our local communities. The number of cases and deaths caused by the virus have been much lower here than in other parts of the UK.

"But, a premature easing of restrictions risks increasing the spread and such a short-sighted move would only increase the risk to our local residents and erode confidence for future visitors.

“I have every confidence that visitors will return to Pembrokeshire when it is safe to do.

"The Welsh Government will work with the tourism sector across Wales to build on our already successful Visit Wales brand and do all we can to support the tourism economy – when the time is right.”