How social distancing may look in Snowdonia as North Wales prepares for staycation boom

Tourism in North Wales is on its knees and yet, with help, a brighter future is tantalisingly within reach. But with cheap overseas holidays off the agenda for the foreseeable future, the staycation market is set for huge growth. “In the past two weeks the number of inquiries has risen significantly, both for later this year and for 2021.” Even if a critical mass of providers survive, pre-vaccine tourism will be a different experience for many visitors. “It will be difficult to do the two-metre dance if 50 or so people go onto Beaumaris pier.” Despite the challenges, Victoria believes the region’s tourism sector can – and must – grasp the opportunities that may arise next year. “As Anglesey and North Wales are already popular with families and couples, and I can see a rise in cross-generational staycations. “Younger people are more likely to suffer in the recession, so perhaps older parents will pay for their children to join them. “They’ll want to go to places like North Wales where they will feel more secure.” Assuming late 2020 can be salvaged, pundits expect holidaymakers to remain cautious initially. Walks in the countryside, and in coastal spots, may be more popular until confidence is restored in key destinations. Another issue, for summer scramblers, are handholds contaminated by numerous nervous hands: it’s one reason why Britain’s climbing walls may not re-open without a vaccine. “There are loads of other potential pinch points too, such as styles,” said Mark Reeves, who runs Snowdonia Mountain Guides. Ideas include restricting access to those living within 100 miles, or to those who have booked local accommodation. “If they’re using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras, police can work out where people are from.” Like many tourism attractions, Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways (FWHR) is leaking money even while closed. The trick, said general manager Paul Lewin, will be to re-open safely without pushing the business even further into the red. It’s a grim situation.” It’s quite possible that, even next year, pubs and restaurants will be permitted to open only at capacities that threaten their viability. For some, with street frontage, the solution is to increase open-air seating, perhaps spilling out onto roads and squares, continental style. The venture has become wildly popular, its menu now expanded to include nachos, burgers and milkshakes. Phil believes that, longer term, Covid-19 could give staycations – already growing rapidly – a further shot in the arm. And to reduce turn-around times for holiday cottages, he suggests the use of electrostatic disinfectant fogging machines.