One of the key points the CLA has consistently made to government, during the Covid-19 pandemic, is the need for clear, simple and effective messaging. The public relies on it, as do businesses.
However, the latest comments from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who has said that taking a summer holiday may not be possible at all this year, directly contradicts his cabinet colleague, Matt Hancock, who claims to have already booked his summer holiday for Cornwall. The obvious question is whether Mr Hancock is talking about this year or next.
The government may not have realised this but the vast majority, if not all, rural tourism businesses are already on their knees. They have experienced a “three winters” vision where many have not been able to reopen even if they were able to. Businesses, jobs and livelihoods are being put at stake, with the inconsistent messaging from government causing further uncertainty.
The prime minister has already said that another roadmap out of the crisis will be available on 22 February. That suggests an element of clear thought and logic. It also suggests providing an element of certainty, the one commodity rural tourism and hospitality businesses need at this time. They need to be able to plan and have an indication of what’s on the horizon.
While we accept the need for a cautious approach, the government needs to remember that we are in the third lockdown and the public’s and businesses’ patience is beginning to wear a little thin.