BUSINESS chiefs say it is crucial to Herefordshire's tourism industry that holiday parks are allowed to open for the summer season.

Herefordshire-based Discover Parks were forced to close their parks when the coronavirus lockdown came into effect on March 23 and there is still no suggestion of when they might be able to reopen.

The family run business has caravan parks in Shobdon, Eardisland and Presteigne and managing director Glenn Jones said a busy summer season helps see the firm through a quieter winter period.

CORONAVIRUS NEWS:

Together with their affiliated body British Holiday and Home Parks Association, they have been lobbying the Government to give businesses such as theirs the go ahead to reopen their gates as soon as possible.

"We have endured an extremely wet winter and a devastating start to the spring season, if we don't open soon a lot of us won't survive," Mr Jones told BBC News.

He added: "Obviously our current closure is having an effect on the local economy with visitors not spending in the area.

"There's also the manufacturing of the holiday homes themselves which provide employment to thousands of people nationwide.

"I fear there will be huge financial consequences if the industry isn't allowed to open soon."

Glenn believes that in the current climate with foreign holidays being out of bounds, "staycation", or "safecation" as he’s calling it, is paramount. Discover Parks offer a completely safe and well distanced environment, with the privately-owned caravans and lodges being at least 10 metres apart.

The award-winning parks employ over 30 people from the locality, the majority of whom are currently being furloughed. Although the golf course and fishing lake was allowed to reopen last week to holiday home owners they are still not allowed near their caravans and lodges. 

ALSO READ:

In Hereford, the city's waterworks museum is also counting the cost of missing its peak season.

Due to most volunteers being classed as vulnerable, the museum took the decision to close in early March, ahead of the Government announcing the lockdown.

Cotswold Journal:

Chairman Richard Curtis said they will stick to a similar level of caution when it comes to deciding when to reopen the museum.

"We've actually already said we won't open again until the end of September," said Mr Curtis, who has been involved with the Broomy Hill museum since 2007.

"It's quite a way off and that's because of two reasons. One is the vulnerability of the volunteers, but also the waterworks museum is a Victorian brick building which is quite hard to social distance in.

"We're developing plans at the moment that will accommodate that, but it will take a bit. We need to lay a new path around the back of a museum to construct a one-way system. There's various precautions we need to take."

While Mr Curtis said the museum, which first opened in 1974, was in a fortunate position as it does not have any paid staff, they are still missing their peak season.

"Our main season is the end of March until the end of October and we would get 85 per cent of our visitors in that time.

"To all intents and purposes we have lost this season. It is of manageable impact in financial terms, but it is having an impact on our volunteers.

"The community of the museum is quite an important part of their health and wellbeing. Not being able to have that social contact is a big thing for many of them."