The Deputy Prime Minster, Nick Clegg, has pledged his support to help spread the message that Cornwall is open for business following an impassioned meeting with key tourism representatives.
The 40 minute meeting which took place at The Headland Hotel in Newquay yesterday evening (February 13) was convened by Nick Clegg in response to the unprecedented weather conditions so that he could hear direct from those in the industry and understand the immediate and longer-term issues.
It also afforded the Deputy Prime Minster the opportunity to experience first-hand the reality of Cornwall being open, and to establish what central Government can do to help keep businesses thriving.
Malcolm Bell, head of Visit Cornwall, led the meeting and was joined by a cross-section of the tourism industry including representatives from visitor attractions, the camping and caravanning sector and accommodation providers, as well as the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce.
Bell said: “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’. Nick Clegg’s assurance that he and all members of Parliament will support the open and accessible message is a welcome comfort.
“Next week’s half-term is going to be an important milestone in restoring confidence in our accessibility. While the rail disruptions continue it is more important than ever for the Government to work with the Highways Agency to minimise the risk of any issues on the A30 and A38, and this was one of the main points stressed in the meeting.”
The need for a resilient transport network was echoed by Julian German, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for economy and culture, who added: “Newquay Cornwall Airport and Flybe should be applauded for their increased flight schedule between London Gatwick and Newquay.
“The impact of the travel disruptions caused by the damaged rail network highlights the significant role this vital air link plays in Cornwall’s connectivity for tourism as well as the wider business community. The businesses around the table demonstrated a powerful conviction for Newquay Cornwall Airport at the meeting which will leave Nick Clegg in no doubt of the long-term necessity of the airport and the need for the Public Service Obligation (PSO) funding for the route from October 2014.”
The duelling of the A30 was also highlighted as being a vital factor in Cornwall’s future while a short-term action point arising from the meeting was the need to continue the momentum of industry’s communications once the storms have passed.
Chair of the Visit Cornwall Partnership, James St Levan of St Michael’s Mount, said: “Cornwall is not alone in experiencing storms. They are a national issue so it is important that we keep things in perspective. Spring offers the opportunity to communicate a restored image of Cornwall and to capitalise on the collaboration that has prevailed across the industry by working together to strengthen Cornwall’s brand.”