Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg has pledged to help spread the message that Cornwall is open for business
after an impassioned meeting with tourism representatives during his visit to the storm-battered region.
Mr Clegg heard about the realities of the situation on the ground during his 40-minute meeting at the Headland Hotel in Newquay on Thursday night.
Malcolm Bell, head of Visit Cornwall, led the meeting and was joined by representatives from visitor attractions, the camping and caravanning sector and accommodation providers, as well as the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce. He described Mr Clegg’s promise to spread the word that the region is open for business as “a welcome comfort”.
“The meeting provided an invaluable opportunity to discuss a number of very real issues, not least the need to restore Cornwall’s image following damaging and misleading reports of being ‘cut off’,” he said.
And, as children across the country break up for their half-term break, he urged families not to give up on the idea of a Westcountry holiday.
While replacement bus services are running on parts of the rail network, after the storms affected Dawlish, flights to Newquay Airport from London Gatwick have been doubled to six a day by operator Flybe in response to the situation.
“Next week’s half-term is going to be an important milestone in restoring confidence in our accessibility,” said Mr Bell.
On the ground, Westcountry tourism organizations are banding together to declare themselves “open for business” during the holiday week.
Many accommodation providers, among them Langdale House bed and breakfast in St Austell and the Pentire Hotel in Newquay, are offering discounts to tempt visitors to come and stay. And once they are here, attractions are offering things to do if the weather shows no sign of improving. They include the Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance, home to the work of the Newlyn School artists, and the West Somerset Railway which offers steam train journeys from Lydeard St Lawrence to Dunster, and there are still places on its “snowdrops and steam journeys” next week.
If the weather keeps up its fury, families might want to head for Woodlands theme park near Dartmouth, where much of the fun is indoors. Another possibility is the Cornwall Seal Sanctuary at Gweek, where marine creatures are cared for in sheltered surroundings beside the Helford River.