Zip Word Fforest shuts amid fears local lockdowns are ‘lid on the...

Zip Word Fforest shuts amid fears local lockdowns are ‘lid on the coffin’ for tourism

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Holiday operators are experiencing a wave of cancellations now that swathes of North Wales are set to go into local lockdown.

Hotels, B&Bs and campsites fear the latest set of Covid-19 regulations will wipe out most of their October trade, effectively ending their 2020 seasons.

For some, the loss of business may extinguish any hopes they have of surviving the winter.

“It’s a massive blow, and will be the lid on the coffin for many,” said Conwy glampsite owner Huw Jones.

Zip World Fforest in Betws-y-Coed has confirmed it will be temporarily closed for two weeks from tomorrow.

With Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham set to go into lockdown at 6pm on Thursday, October 1, many operators are still grappling with the implications.

“From what I can gather, having read about last week’s lockdowns in South Wales, guests aren’t expected to finish their holidays early,” said Mr Jones, whose glampsite pods are fully occupied until next Wednesday.

“But I’ve been on to the council all morning trying to get clarity.

“I’m also trying to find out if the Wales border is going to remain porous, and whether they will be any support or compensation for affected businesses.”

The Three Stream Glamping (Glampio Tair Afon) pods venture only opened in August
The Three Stream Glamping (Glampio Tair Afon) pods venture only opened in August

Mr Jones launched his Three Stream Glamping (Glampio Tair Afon) venture in August and had been hoping for a late-season surge to recoup his investment.

After opening, the Llanfairfechan site secured a run of bookings but in recent days these have begun to disappear.

“I’ve had 15 cancellations in the past two weeks and there will be more to come now,” he said.

“Collectively they will amount to a month’s worth of bookings, costing thousands of pounds.

“Effectively I will lose the whole of my October trade – and then we’re into winter.”

The Welsh Government has confirmed English holidaymakers can still cross the border into North Wales and travel through lockdown counties to reach destinations in Gwynedd, Anglesey, Powys and Ceredigion, which are not in lockdown.

However there are caveats – visitors must not be from lockdown areas in England that have travel restrictions; and they must travel straight through the lockdown counties with no stops other than for essential items like fuel.

No holidaymakers will be allowed to stay in lockdown areas – and residents in lockdown counties cannot take holidays overseas.

New rooftop balcony rooms at St George's Hotel, Llandudno
New rooftop balcony rooms at St George’s Hotel, Llandudno

This week the Anderbury Hotel Collection, which operates St George’s Hotel, Llandudno, has seen a spate of cancellations.

It is now contacting all guests who have booked a room over the next couple of weeks and transferring their reservations to other dates.

The hotel has responded to the situation by offering special lockdown B&B rates of £50 for Conwy residents

Nathan Cousins, head of group sales and marketing, said: “We are remaining open to key workers and people who need to stay for valid reasons.

“We are also staying open for residents of Conwy who may like to stay or have a meal or drink in our lounge or bar areas.”

Zip World will review its decision to close its Betws-y-Coed site in two weeks time.

However the company stressed its two sites in Gwynedd – at Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda, and Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog – will remain open as the county is outside the lockdown area.

Neither has the firm cancelled half-term opening – or its Ffear Fforest hallowe’en event – at Zip World Fforest half-term opening and Ffear Fforest.

“As the situation currently stands, they will be going ahead,” said a spokesperson.

Glampsite owner Huw Jones said the lockdowns were a disaster for a sector that seen a glimmer of autumn light after a summer of woe.

He questioned the timing of tighter curbs in areas that, by cross-border standards, still had relatively low numbers of Covid-19 cases.

“Surely they could have waited three weeks until after half-term?” he said.

“For many businesses now, it’s going to be a long, hard winter – and some may not survive.”

Jim Jones, chief executive of North Wales Tourism, said he felt an overwhelming sense of sadness for businesses that had fought so hard to re-open in late summer.

Many had invested heavily in making their premises safe and secure and safe for visitors.

“Safety comes first, of course, and we know that,” he said.

“We’re just having to deal with an extraordinary amount of uncertainty and this is yet another big blow.”

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