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Survey conducted between 22 April and 1 May 2020

Visit Wales conducted a telephone survey with 805 tourism businesses covering:

  • serviced accommodation
  • self catering
  • caravan and campsites
  • hostels
  • attractions
  • activity providers
  • restaurants
  • pubs
  • cafes

In some sectors such as restaurants, pubs and cafes it was very difficult to reach anyone on the phone due to lockdown and so the numbers represented in this wave are very low.

The situation with COVID-19 is very fast-moving. These interviews were conducted while the Government’s exit strategy and approximate timings remained unknown.    

Furlough support has kept redundancies to a minimum to date

The majority (71%) of businesses which employ any staff said they had to put at least some of them on paid leave or furlough. This is a significant increase from the previous research wave (50%), which was conducted at the end of March.

On average, 8 staff per tourism business were furloughed or put on paid leave. When based to just businesses taking that action, the average was 11 per business. If a business furloughed any staff, it was likely to be all or nearly all of those they employ.

By comparison, the average no. of redundancies made per business which employs staff was only 0.1. The support for furloughed staff has helped to keep this number low to date.

Impact on seasonal staff

About one in six (16%) businesses would normally employ seasonal staff at this time of year. Out of these, a minority (14%) were still able to do so; or 2% of the whole survey sample.

Estimated 20% loss of normal annual revenue to date

The median reported loss as a result of the crisis in just the period since the beginning of the outbreak was approximately 20% of normal revenue for the whole year. This finding was consistent across sector, region and business size.

The range was considerable, from not having lost anything, to over 80% of normal annual revenue.

Q9 “… how much revenue has your business lost so far due to the COVID-19 crisis?”
All Wales North Wales Mid Wales South West Wales South East Wales
Haven’t lost any revenue 1% 2% 2%
Up to £1,000 3% 2% 5% 3% 2%
£1,001 to £2,500 7% 5% 8% 7% 9%
£2,501 to £5,000 18% 17% 15% 20% 18%
£5,001 to £10,000 25% 26% 33% 19% 20%
£10,001 to £25,000


25% 19% 20% 22%
£25,001 to £50,000 10% 10% 10% 12% 8%
£50,001 to £100,000 8% 6% 4% 11% 10%
£100,001 to £250,000 4% 4% 5% 3% 6%
£250,001 to £500,000 2% 2% 2% 1% 2%
£500,001 to £1,000,000 1% 1% 1% 2%
Base 571 220 102 143 106

Welsh Government Economic Resilience Fund

While the Fund was open for applications, about half (48%) of tourism businesses interviewed had applied. Application levels were higher among the following types of business:

  • businesses with more than 5 permanent employees (60%)
  • attractions and activity providers (57%)
  • based in Mid Wales (68%)

About a third (32%) of applicants had been successful, 11% had been unsuccessful, and the remainder (57%) were still waiting for an outcome at the time of interviewing.

Other forms of government support

Three in four (75%) businesses which were eligible for a business rates holiday had applied for a grant. But apart from business rate grants, few respondents had applied for any other support we asked about (either UK Government support or Development Bank of Wales loans). Businesses were reluctant to take on loans, which involve paying back with interest.

Surviving lockdown

Around a quarter (23%) of businesses don’t expect to survive the next three months if lockdown continues, while three in ten (30%) don’t know how long they can survive.

However, around a third (31%) of operators could survive for longer than another 6 months of lockdown. Having another major income besides tourism appears to be a significant factor.

The chart shows that 17% of businesses estimate being able to survive 2 or 3 months, 6% estimated 1 month or less and 10% said between 4 and 6 months.

Medium and longer term concerns

The most significant medium and longer term concerns are:

  • not making enough money in the summer to survive next winter
  • backlash from locals when opening up again to tourists
  • managing social distancing, could be very hard for some types of business
  • slow recovery due to customers’ and/or owners’ concerns over health risks

Desired support from Visit Wales (Welsh Government)

Many commented on the good information and financial support already given. Further desired support includes:

  • guidance on how to operate safely post-lockdown
  • further financial support if the summer season is missed


Joanne Corke
Tel: 0300 025 1138

Research report number: 35/2020

Digital ISBN: 978-1-80038-556-6

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