Coronavirus: Tourism businesses in Northumberland 'scared for what the future will hold'

Tourism-related businesses across Northumberland are facing up to the major impact coronavirus may have on them.

Thursday, 19th March 2020, 10:14 am
Updated Thursday, 19th March 2020, 10:14 am

While many B&B owners and hotels remain open for business, the number of attractions deciding to close their doors as a health precaution grows by the day.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said everyone in the UK should avoid ‘non-essential’ travel and contact with others.

However, there is still hope that visitors who may have been planning trips abroad will instead look towards Northumberland.

Beadnell Bay was a popular spot over the 2019 Easter weekend. Picture by Jane Coltman

“These are unprecedented times that we are all now living in,” admitted Harvest Harris-Jones, chairman of the North Northumberland Tourism Association (NNTA).

“Tourism is the biggest employer in Northumberland and as we reach the end of the winter season we are all getting ready to open our doors once again, but all are at a loss as to what to do and where to turn for help.

“Northumberland is an incredibly beautiful county and has plenty of open space that visitors should still be able to enjoy whilst practising social distancing.

“We need our visitors to still come, they will have a lot less to do as many attractions will no doubt close, but the landscape and fresh air will be such a positive impact on them in the world of negativity.”

Dave and Harvest Harris-Jones of Laverock Law Cottages won the Visit England award for sustainable tourism last year. They received the award from TV presenter Kirstie Allsop.

Harvest, who runs the award-winning Laverock Law Holiday Cottages, near Lowick, added: “From a business point of view the NNTA has spoken with owners of many businesses over the last few days.

“We are all scared for what the future will hold for tourism businesses across the county, our lives, homes and families.

“Many of us have invested over the winter months to improve our offer and desperately need the income from visitors to keep our businesses going.”

Those sentiments are shared by Neil Forsyth, who lives near Seahouses and has a portfolio of holiday properties along the coast.

He said: “It’s coming up to the time of year, from Easter until the school summer holidays, that we normally get a large number of retired people who come to stay so we know it’s going to be tough.”