Cornwall’s top tourist attractions are continuing to face an ongoing crisis in staffing across the sector, with some attractions operating with half the number of their usual staff.
Visitor attractions across the county have struggled to recruit workers ahead of the summer season, as many in tourism and hospitality have moved away from the sector in favour of other work opportunities.
Combined with an increase in the numbers of remaining staff being asked to self-isolate after receiving a Track and Trace ping, the Cornish tourism and hospitality industry is continuing to face an unprecedented shortage in staff across the sector.
The current housing market situation causes further problems for seasonal and hourly-paid workers – with a scarcity of affordable rental properties causing issues in accepting employment without a place to live.
Cornwall is facing one of the busiest summers on record, thanks to the staycation boom – yet recruitment remains a challenge for visitor attractions large and small.
Catering roles are proving one of the hardest areas to fill at present – though the issue is prevalent throughout all areas of visitor attraction operation. Despite generous salaries and signing-on bonuses available in some areas, recruitment remains a problematic issue.
Attractions will be working closely with their current staff to ensure they are well looked after during a summer that will see them working hard to meet customer needs.
Jon Cummins, chair of the board of directors at Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions (CATA), said: “Cornwall is facing a crisis in the recruitment of strong candidates across the tourism sector at the moment. It is proving a real challenge for our visitor attractions to fill positions, with many operating with significantly lower levels of staff than usual.
“The county is experiencing a huge boom in visitors this summer, and we’d ask all visitors to our attractions to be patient and kind to the staff serving them. They’ll be working very hard to provide a great visitor experience at a really testing time for our sector.”
Richard Welby, general manager at Flambards, agrees with this sentiment. He said: “We are running at almost 70% of our normal head count for this time of year. This has obviously had an impact on all areas and departments at the site. It has meant increased pressure on our existing teams at every level.
“We are asking all visitors to help us to deliver the best day of the week by respecting our team members at every point. The health, safety and welfare of every visitor and every team member is the number one priority for us, and this will never change.”
Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions is liaising closely with other industry bodies, including Visit Cornwall and Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, to voice concerns and to look at ways to boost recruitment in the sector.
Malcolm Bell, CEO of Visit Cornwall, added: “Like other sectors of the Cornish economy, tourism and hospitality are suffering from the labour supply problems which is adding to business pressures and stress for customer facing staff who have to deal with frustrated visitors.
“Visit Cornwall will be working with the Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership to try to redress matters but in the meantime, we are asking for a summer of understanding and ask visitors from outside as well as inside Cornwall, to make sure they book ahead to avoid disappointment but also be kind and respectful to front line staff who are doing their very best in a very demanding and difficult situations.”
Kim Conchie, CEO of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce echoed: “A labour shortage is occurring across the UK in most sectors due to a number of factors – Brexit, furlough, COVID-19 and the pingdemic to name but four. The shortage is having most short-term impact where customer service is being affected.
“In Cornwall at this time of year, that’s very visible because a large part of our economy relies on great customer service and produce. So, if things are taking a bit longer than normal or you’re having to go through annoying check-in procedures, take a deep breath, put yourself in the shoes of staff working twice as hard in stressful circumstances and be kind and respectful at all times. They’re doing their best, so please be at your best.”
CATA works with almost 40 of Cornwall’s top tourist attractions, ensuring the best visitor experiences are promoted across the region. They act as the voice of the Cornish visitor attraction industry and provide a supportive industry network for those working in the sector.