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Dear UK, West is open for tourist business - despite the storms and the floods

By WMNlynbarton  |  Posted: February 10, 2014

  • Floods shouldn't keep visitors away say tourist bosses

  • Views like this one revealing the beauty of Dartmoor seconds after a snow blizzard on Sunday afternoon show how the Westcountry is still an amazing place to visit despite the storms. Picture by David Wells.

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Leaders of a key Westcountry industry have issued a defiant stand against the weather insisting the region is still very much open for business.

The words came as forecasters predicted a “conveyor belt” of storms heading towards the South West with the next due to hit on Tuesday.

Six weeks of atrocious weather has brought widespread damage to coastal communities as powerful waves have battered sea defences, while heavy rain has caused widespread floods.

Two red flood warnings, indicating a threat to life, imposed on Wednesday remain in place on the Somerset Levels, while last night 18 further flood warnings, plus 44 lower grade flood alerts were imposed.

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Travel disruption remains ongoing with only one railway line out of two running from London to Exeter is open while the collapse of the sea wall at Dawlish means the railway line between Devon’s two cities and into Cornwall will be out of action for at least six weeks.

However, with schools on half term holidays next week, Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, said the region remained a great place to have a holiday.

“We are open for business, I want to make that clear,” he said.

“The railway line damage is significant, but the fact is that only six per cent of our visitors come by rail.

“The message I would like to get across is that we are not cut off from the rest of the UK.”

His words were backed up by Iain MacTaggart, who owns the Pentire Hotel at Newquay.

He said that though the hotel was nearly full for the half term break, booking enquiries had dropped off dramatically in the last week.

“We had some people who were booked in who rang to see if we had power and whether it was safe to come.

“The perception is that the whole of the region has been engulfed in one giant tsunami, which is obviously not true.”

Mr MacTaggart said the railway line was an important link for Cornwall, but as far as he was concerned, 99 per cent of his visitors travelled by car.

“I am telling people that there is nothing wrong with the road network and Cornwall is still open,” he said.

Forecasters though could not deliver any good news to the tourism industry, warning of further storms to come.

The region was hit by winds of up to 70mph on Saturday prompting emergency response teams to be on the alert in Devon and Cornwall.

However they were stood down after there was no repeat of widespread damage from earlier in the week.

The Met Office has suggested Britain could be battered by a “conveyor belt” of storms for at least the next few weeks.

Meteorologists have said the powerful storms and floods are just facet of a pattern of global disruption to the weather which could take weeks to calm down.

Paul Gundersen, Met Office chief meteorologist, Monday would offer a little relief from the seemingly relentless stormy weather.

However, more bad weather was brewing in the Atlantic, he said.

“Monday is expected to bring a brief respite from the stormy conditions before more strong winds and rain set in from the west on Tuesday.

“This will bring the continuing risk of flooding and damaging winds bringing down trees to cause disruption to travel and power networks.”

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