Enjoy the Island but do it responsibly — the message from the Isle of Wight Council’s chief executive to returning tourists.
With the potential easing of lockdown restrictions just under a month away, the hospitality industry is preparing to open for Islanders —and those choosing to come on holiday.
Metcalfe: A dilemma, but people would come anyway
However, concerns for the Island’s welfare and the dependence on tourism were raised at last night’s (Tuesday) meeting of the corporate scrutiny committee.
Chief executive of the council, John Metcalfe said it is a dilemma, but people would come to the Island anyway, with holiday accommodation reporting bookings for July, August and September and the Government indicating sections of the hospitality industry potentially opening sooner than 4th July.
“We are trying to work out a plan, linked to our local outbreak management plan, where we can balance the needs of one against the other and really think proactively about how we do that.
“A huge amount will be taken from the lessons we have learnt – how to campaign and how we can give the best possible advice to tourism sites, from our regulatory services team – to make sure they are covid secure and covid prepares.”
Metcalfe: Tourists should download the App
Mr Metcalfe would also like tourists to download the Contact Tracing App, while adhering to messages of social distancing and personal responsibility to protect the Island’s community.
“People are hearing this nationally but we need to do it on a more local, micro-level as a call to action to say come and enjoy the Isle of Wight but please do it responsibly, with the Island’s safety and community in mind when you do so.”
Stewart: Summer season could become a second winter season
Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Cllr Dave Stewart, said if the Island was not careful the summer season would become a second winter season, but the fears of residents are a very real concern.
“We have tried to take a safety-first approach because there are many residents who are still concerned about coming out of their door, and we need to take it into account.
“Tourism and employment on the Isle of Wight are a very significant part of the economy, and people do not want to lose their jobs.
“We are encouraging our business to prepare themselves but not all businesses will be able to trade like they did before.
“We are treading carefully — there is a pressure building from one side, people who can see potential loss if we can not get our tourism businesses alive, but then on the other side is the safety first. I find myself with officer right in the middle, we won’t please everybody but we will try and please as many as we can.”
Under the Government’s plan to rebuild, published in May, some accommodation owners will be allowed to open in July so long as they meet the secure Covid-19 guidelines.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed
Image: © With kind permission of Visit Isle of Wight