Covid-19 hits spring tour bookings

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A Cornish tour company has seen its spring bookings wiped out, following a series of cancellations due to coronavirus in recent days.

Tour Cornwall, which relies heavily on travellers from overseas, is struggling after all of its March trips and most of April’s have been cancelled as a result of coronavirus.

A majority of the company’s customers come from the USA and have been advised not to travel abroad unless absolutely necessary.

This has left Tour Cornwall with little income for the next few months and worried about the effect on business for the remainder of the year.

Business owner Tim Uff commented: “I’m shocked at the speed and severity of the cancellations. It’s not the start to the season we were expecting. One day we had a diary full of bookings, the next day they are gone.”

In addition to the cancellations, the company has not received any new enquiries for its tours for nearly two weeks.

Tour Cornwall operates private, guided tours of Cornwall on a number of themes such as gardens, heritage and Poldark filming locations. As well as customers from the USA, it attracts visitors from as far afield as Canada, Japan and Australia.

The company has grown in recent years to a team of three self-employed drivers who escort customers on day and multi-day tours around the county. Now their livelihoods are in doubt as a result of effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Uff said: “I can see how this would be catastrophic for a larger company with many employees and vehicles to support. Luckily, our business is quite small and agile and we should be able to weather the storm.

“I’m confident that the business will return as soon as the crisis is over. But in the meantime, we may need to look for other work to supplement our income.”

On a more positive note, a number of the company’s customers have expressed their intention to return later in the year when the situation improves. Plus, there are hopes that there might be a boost in domestic bookings as more people opt to holiday in the UK rather than travelling abroad.

Uff added: “It’s all very worrying but we need to stay positive and hope that the summer and autumn will make up for this false start to the season.”