Visit Wales? Social media fury at travel journalist’s recommendations

Tom Barnes
·3-min read
Welcome back? Simon Calder on the Wales Coast Path in August 2020 (Simon Calder)
Welcome back? Simon Calder on the Wales Coast Path in August 2020 (Simon Calder)

The travel correspondent of The Independent is at the centre of a controversy after recommending half-term breaks in mid-Wales.

It began when Simon Calder was interviewed on ITV This Morning on Monday about family holidays in the UK.

For Wales, he told the hosts, Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, that with areas of South Wales and North Wales under lockdown, the alternative was to visit mid-Wales

“My absolute top tip, you could stop off in the lovely town of Machynlleth where you've got some great outdoor attractions such as the Centre for Alternative Technology which I just love,” he said.

"And of course you can go to Aberystwyth and all the resorts, Barmouth and Harlech all the way round to lovely Pwllheli. So, Wales is easy.”

The advice coincided with Visit Wales recommendations.

Currently a majority of the population in the north and south of Wales are confined by lockdown measures and are not allowed to leave their local areas for holidays.

The recommendations triggered a series of hostile responses on social media.

Maggie Morgan tweeted: “Shocking. How can you encourage English tourists to travel to Wales when most people in Wales can't travel in Wales? Covid 2nd wave is spreading fast.

"Irresponsible and colonialist attitude. Rhag eich cywilydd [Shame on you]. Please broadcast a full apology!"

A Welsh GP, Dr Eilir Hughes, tweeted: “Shame that most people living in Wales aren’t allowed to visit these lovely places – might be a good reason for this though. Just a thought.”

Dion Humphreys from Porthmadog wrote: “Absolutely f***ing knob there’s a reason parts of Wales are going in to lockdown, we don’t want you lot bringing more cases to Wales. Now f*** off and stay in England.”

Calder later wrote in his column for The Independent: “I understand the deep concern of any community that is fearful of outsiders spreading this vile virus.

“Quite rightly, it is for the people of Wales to decide whether, when and which tourists should visit the nation.

“I intended to inspire travellers to enjoy, responsibly, a part of the UK that is rich in wonders, and hoped their visits would in turn support local businesses.

"The hundreds of people I inadvertently angered may be glad to hear that I have no further plans to book a stay in Wales.

Many more people then responded to this article – including Gareth, tweeting as @Wilde_craft, who wrote: “We're not a f***ing theme park. Our homes aren't there for your jollies.”

Dr Einir Young tweeted: “I don’t condone abuse in any form but it might be an idea to reflect on your lack of insight and sensitivity under the difficult circumstances we all find ours in. Sorry seems the hardest word.’’

A spokesperson for the Welsh government said: “While there are currently no legal restrictions on people travelling to parts of Wales which are not under local restrictions, we are considering what we could do to stop the spread of the virus to low prevalence areas.

“In the meantime, we are asking people to think very carefully about making journeys.”

Read more

‘Now f*** off and stay in England’: The cool reception from Wales