MORE jobs at Celtic Manor in Newport could be saved if the Government provided more clarity on the roadmap for the future of tourism and events, according to the resort's chief executive.

Ian Edwards, who heads up the hotel and the International Conference Centre, was speaking at Restart Tourism, an online event organised by the South Wales Argus and our sister titles to support tourism and hospitality businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Edwards said coronavirus had had a catastrophic impact on the industry, but the impact could still be been lessened.


"No one would want to be sitting in the first minister's chair, he has a really difficult job to do," said Mr Edwards. "But the challenge we have had as an industry is while we have a road map from the Welsh Government with red, amber and green, that roadmap isn't signposted."

He said only knowing a week or two in advance that restaurants or hotels could reopen was not long enough to react. "When you are sitting with a workforce of over 1,000 people and a payroll of £2m a month, we have to plan for that and if you don't know when you are going to come out of that it makes it really difficult," said Mr Edwards.

"We don't have a crystal ball or know what's going on with the virus but at least help us plan for the future. Part of our challenge is we thought 450 people could lose their job. However if I knew what the plan was for the future, perhaps I could cut that back. I may be cutting too deep.

"The question to government is not about giving us more money but allowing us to help ourselves so we can look after our team members."

Watch the Restart Tourism online event above

As an example he said said some of the resort's chefs had been in consultation over possible redundancy but they have now those roles are no longer at risk after a better August than expected.

"People want to travel so, hopefully, we won't make all 450 people redundant but the better signposted the roadmap might be, the better we can make decisions."

The events and conferencing side of the business is more gloomy, however, with little prospect of reopening soon in Wales. "In England they have got test conferences and exhibitions with a sign of opening potentially in October," said Mr Edwards. "We don't have that. August is the busiest time of the year for meetings to make enquiries and bookings. We can't talk to a client and say we can take their booking for November or even for March next year."

South Wales Argus:

Restart Tourism online event, clockwise from top left, Rebecca Rigby, Bluestone Resort, Ian Edwards, Celtic Manor, Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, University of South Wales, and Gavin Thompson, South Wales Argus

Mr Edwards praised the UK government's job retention scheme allowing companies to furlough employees with the Treasury picking up 80% of their wages.

"The furlough scheme has been incredible for us," he said. "We employ just over 1,000 people and during that period we had about 900 team members on furlough."

He added: "Wales has done a good job in terms of protecting lives what we need now is to change the message to the we need your help to kick start the economy."

Mr Edwards was on the panel alongside other tourism industry experts from across South Wales. Read what they said Welsh tourism needs to survive here.