WORRIED business owners working in Gwent’s tourism and hospitality sectors have called for clarity from the Welsh Government on when tourism can get going again.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has recently said self-contained accommodation might be able to “open slightly” this summer, while economy minister Ken Skates said he would “like to see it happen”.

Now some business owners who are getting concerned for their livelihoods are calling for action rather than words.

Ian Moore, who has owned the Laundry Basket in Abergavenny for 14 years, says for the first time he faces the “real possibility of having to close”.

“Seventy per cent of my custom comes from tourism,” Mr Moore said. “I’ve lost more than £25,000 in a few months and the £10,000 business support package will not be enough to keep us going past August.

Free Press Series: Ian Moore, who owns The Laundry Basket on Station Road in AbergavennyIan Moore, who owns The Laundry Basket on Station Road in Abergavenny

“We have staff on furlough, but if this furlough stops we will need to open or receive extra help.

“I am worried that if we don’t open up or alternatively get further support, then we will have to start laying people off.”

Mr Moore says the problem isn’t just a lack of clarity and funding, but also that the “majority of people in Wales are scared”.

“Mr Drakeford is saying he might let local communities decide whether they want the tourism sectors to reopen,” he added, “we need better leadership than that.

“Next year the economy in Wales will be on its knees if we continue like this. We will see enormous unemployment and the sad thing is that it will have been unnecessary."

Eugenia Gardner, owner at the Crescent Guest House in Newport, said she feels she has not had any guidance from the Welsh Government.

“I feel that is wrong,” she said, “we need clarity now and soon it will become a very urgent situation.

Free Press Series: Malcolm (centre left) and Fiona Wilton (right) being awarded in the regional heats by Lord Elis-Thomas Deputy Minister for Tourism in Wales in 2019Malcolm (centre left) and Fiona Wilton (right) being awarded in the regional heats by Lord Elis-Thomas Deputy Minister for Tourism in Wales in 2019

“We’ve received the business support grant which is continuing to tide us over, but it will soon run out with bills to pay.

“I have been here for 22 years and this is by the far the most challenging situation I’ve faced.

“Luckily we don’t owe any money, but we will need more support very soon if we can’t open."

Fiona Wilton, who runs getaway accommodation business Monmouthshire Cottages in Catbrook, says she understands the “horrible conundrum” decision-makers face, but she has received no income since March while costs are higher than normal.

“We have had to buy double the bedding, cushions, and cleaning equipment – it is tremendously expensive.

“We are being careful to make sure that when we are able to open we are offering as safe a service as possible, but the problem is limited testing.

“It means that while I’m certain visitors won’t be in danger, my cleaners could be. How do I know I’m not letting an asymptomatic tourist in?”

Tony Hamilton of The Knoll guest house in Newport, said it “has been a blessing” they were asked to accept key workers.

“We received a letter from the Welsh Government requesting we continued to run, which has been huge for us,” he said.

“We’re just about breaking even because our kitchen and café remains closed and all events have been cancelled."

A spokesman for Visit Wales spoke on behalf of the Welsh Government, saying: “We hear what businesses are saying and are acutely aware of the challenges they are facing but we have to be guided by the medical and scientific advice to ensure restrictions are only lifted when it is safe to do so.

“It is also crucial the sector knows that together with other nations we are fiercely lobbying for additional financial support from the UK government. The next review point is on June 18.”