I’m not prepared to publicly launch into either side of the widening schism between Brexiters and Remainers, as that is not the purpose of this website, nor indeed the Tenby Chamber of Trade & Tourism that supports it. But what has been its impact so far upon the town’s economy, which is within The Chamber’s remit, indeed its core purpose?
Last summer, you may remember, we enjoyed three glorious months of sunshine, from May through to the end of July. And Pembrokeshire was booming. Unlike Cornwall, which was pleading with visitors not go to the beaches, Pembrokeshire welcomed all. And boy did they come. Whether it was the security issues of incidents across Europe, the logistical challenges of airports, the lowly exchange value of the British pound, the feeling of uncertainty which acts against long term planning or the simple convenience of jumping in the car for a few hours to the destination, the county had a great year. Tenby, as the much quoted ‘jewel in the crown’ of the county’s visitor offer, had a boom year.
Well it was boom on its four beaches but many of its inside offers – the museums, galleries, shops, etc – did not experience the same increase. But it really was magnificent sun. And though the less predictable weather of last August provided consolation to the ‘insiders’, many of them were by then three months ‘down’.
Another challenge is finding staff for the increased demands. The hospitality industry has always struggled to find enough staff, but we were presented with a double whammy: more staff needed yet less were coming, put off by the apparent unwelcome sign being shown by the Brexiters, and many now had economies outperforming the UK’s.
So what for this year? Judging by the hordes of tourists currently here (it is Whitsun half-term), this season could be even busier. Always the year after a very sunny summer acts as a beneficiary. The pound is even weaker against all the major currencies. And the uncertainty prevails; dare one say it, it seems to be even ‘more uncertain’: no-one knows what is going to happen.
Perhaps we can say with some assurance that Tenby will have another boom year. Certainly the amount of scaffolding put up and taken down over the last five months indicates confidence from the business operators in the season ahead. And, as we all know, economic performance is a result of perception rather than fact. A shame this approach couldn’t have some lasting political impact …..