In an interview with Sky News, during which a ‘Visit Cornwall’ sign was visibly displayed in the background, Bell said, “Don't come if you haven't booked. We've got good weather, we have got high rates here, but it's more important that actually we're very, very busy.”
“If you've got your accommodation, you've booked what you're going to do, that's fine,” he advised, adding, “Just please don't come down on spec. You're gonna get frustrated, you're gonna get annoyed, you probably won't be able to find anywhere to stay, and you certainly will struggle to find anywhere to book into a restaurant or a cafe.”
Bell explained that “the last thing” Cornwall currently needs is “a load of unprompted, unplanned visits to Cornwall,” as Covid-19 cases continue to rise, and concluded, “Please just don't come down if you suddenly think, ‘It's lovely weather, let's go down to Cornwall and see what we can do.’”
Brits on social media were quick to point out the irony of the chief executive of Visit Cornwall calling on tourists to stay away from the county.
“If I was urging people not to visit Cornwall, I would not sit in front of a massive 'Visit Cornwall' poster, but that's just me,” reacted one man, while others advised Bell to change his title to “Chief Executive of Do Not Visit Cornwall.”
Labour Party councillor Ian Jones argued that Bell's advice was “all very well,” but that tourist areas like Cornwall “can't have it both ways.”
“You either welcome tourists with the risks and rewards that offers or you don't and shut up shop,” Jones noted, adding that “when overseas travel reopens properly these places will be begging for visitors.”
According to the UK's official coronavirus data, Cornwall now has the highest Covid-19 rate out of all local authorities and counties in England, with a rate of 771.3 cases per 100,000 people. Cases shot up by 101% in Cornwall last week, recording a total of 4,439 infections.