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200831 | Inside most unique tourism season Cornwall has ever seen: Hospitality workers have been reduced to tears, businesses

Inside the most unique tourism season Cornwall has ever seen

Hospitality workers have been reduced to tears, businesses are fighting for survival and beaches have been as busy as ever

People reveal their thoughts on this summer season

Last year it was predicted that Cornwall would see a huge rise in so-called staycation tourists in light of Brexit.

It was said that with more people opting to holiday at home than abroad, the Duchy would see the biggest rise in visitors compared to the rest of the country, according to a study.

A short time later, the world would also be thrust into a global pandemic, making UK staycations not just favoured, and an 'easier' option than traveling aboard, but they would become the only feasible option for many in want of a holiday.

Now, as we approach the end of the most unique tourism season that Cornwall has ever seen, we reflect on the fear, sadness, joy and relief that this season has brought to the county as tourism workers have been left drained, businesses have been fighting for survival and the beaches have been as busy as ever.

It wasn't long until pictures started surfacing of busy beaches and beauty spots across the county as hotels, campsites and restaurants became fully booked - operating at reduced capacity - when they were allowed to open on July 4.

The remarkable comeback was a welcome surprise to all those whose business' had been left in the lurch relying heavily on the summer season.

By the end of the first weekend in August, beaches were so busy that Cornwall Council's deputy leader Adam Paynter had to remind people to follow rules after reports people "came down to Cornwall to get away from the virus" and that they were reluctant to follow face mask rules.

(Image: RNLI / Sam Hawken)

Locals in Newquay said the coastal town was busier than ever before, describing a walk through the town as feeling "like Boardmasters everyday". Businesses were reporting record sales, including hotels and restaurants saying they were having to turn people away.

Down the coast in St Ives, visitors were describing holidays as 'very different' this year but said that everything was well managed and they felt safe.

Bernard Charlesworth made a trip down from Manchester with his wife. He told Cornwall Live they were initially worried about coming but didn't regret the decision.

Bernard Charlesworth was on holiday in St Ives from Manchester. (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

“It’s been restricted with the social distancing. The way you have to be in a restaurant, the way you have to be in bars, on trains with masks, it's all restricting. It’s very well managed [going around St Ives]," he said.

“We’ve felt very welcomed by the locals. The people, the sea it's wonderful. Everything's wonderful.”

Tony Mason, who lives in St Ives, was delighted the holidaymakers were able to make a return in 2020.

(Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

He felt that it was positive that St Ives was able to get in a holiday season that many thought wouldn’t happen.

He said: “I’ve found the holiday season just as normal. It’s slow-motion in the shops, but everyone’s doing their best and having a good time. We’re getting in a season that most people had thought had gone."

He said the challenges posed by social distancing in the town wasn’t a problem, adding: “It’s fine, absolutely fine.

"It’s true not everyone’s keeping left, but the four streets you talk of are too narrow to do it perfectly in, so it’s patchy but outdoors and people are respecting each other and are always far enough away.

“The holiday season is a massive positive for St Ives. Let’s not also underestimate the mental health benefits for the people that are coming here, but also the businesses that are doing very well also.”

Across the coast in Falmouth there were also concerns after pictures showed few people wearing masks amidst the lunchtime rush.

Large crowds in Falmouth town centre in early August (Image: Greg Martin)

The influx of visitors has also seen Cornwall's emergency services busier than ever as police had to issue a stern message for staycation tourists and local residents as hot weather brought crowds of visitors to our beaches and beauty spots.

In July, police across the region dealt with more than 1,200 crime logs on a Friday after pubs and restaurants re-opened - the equivalent of a rowdy New Year's Eve.

Devon & Cornwall police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez added: “Unfortunately the summer months result in a minority of people causing problems for the majority of residents and visitors who want to enjoy everything that this beautiful part of the world has to offer."

What is happening where you live? Find out by adding your postcode.

Cornwall's lifeguards have also shared numerous pictures of busy streets and beaches and urged people to respect the RNLI teams with crew assaulted in St Ives and near St Austell.

Kitty Norman, RNLI water safety delivery support also warned that the sheer volume of people making social distancing tricky on beaches was a concern.

During the first week of August the RNLI lifeguards conducted 30 rescues in one day on the same beach in Cornwall and countless more rescues have been conducted since.

While the return of visitors has been welcome news to those strugging financially, it has also cause some upset as tensions have been high with some visitors ruining it for the rest.

A “very defeated” receptionist at a holiday park in Cornwall put many people's feelings into words when she wrote a stark open letter to rude and angry tourists who have reduced her to tears.

Beth Richards says she has been called 'stupid, idiotic or a b*tch' for asking people to wear a face mask

Beth Richards, from Truro, decided to post a letter to holidaymakers on Facebook after a challenging day in her job this week when four guests at the holiday park where she works were rude to her.

“I had to cry in the staff room because it was so nasty,” she admitted.

Beth, who did not want to reveal which holiday park she works for, decided to speak out as she says friends who work in shops, restaurants and other holiday parks have also faced a higher level of abuse this summer from visitors frustrated by social distancing.

You can read her emotional letter here which describes how she has been called stupid, idiotic or a b*tch just for asking people to wear a mask.

In a similar incident, management at St Mellion hotel were forced to take drastic action with a couple of guests who refused to adopt the anti-coronavirus measures .

The hotel, owned by Crown Golf, stressed it was “committed to keeping everyone safe” during their stay and has a range of “practical hygiene and health and safety practices to protect the health of our guests”.

Irek Kwasniewski, group digital marketing manager, said: “We have had many messages of praise for the consistency and thoroughness of our precautions, and that includes number of on-line reviews and guest feedback.”

Ian Davies is the new resort general manager at St Mellion

Ian Davies is the new resort general manager at St Mellion (Image: Irek Kwasniewski)

But it hasn't been all doom and gloom with industry leaders and tourism workers stressing that it is the few spoiling things for the majority.

Irek stressed: “We must make clear that we have had a small number of objections from guests arriving, or during their stay, regarding distancing, restrictions on movement and items of furniture, face coverings and so on.”

He added: “On each occasion we have addressed the objection directly, some of which have bordered on refusal to comply and verbal aggression.”

But he said: “Guests have either complied and later apologised, or been escorted from the premises, not to return. We maintain that approach, and will do so until rules change.”

(Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

St Ives ice-cream shop worker Ella Metcalfe-Walker said that people have been enjoying their coastal holidays, wearing masks and sticking to the rules.

She said: “It’s been quite busy but it’s good for business and we’ve had lots of people coming for ice cream.

“I’d say people were enjoying their holiday. It’s been alright with social distancing, people are wearing their masks and yeah, it’s going okay.”




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