Tourism boss lashes out at ‘bloody tourists’

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Malcolm Bell, the head of Cornwall’s tourism board, has criticised the “bloody tourists” who visit the region every year. He slammed the many people who, he said, go to Cornwall only to compare it to other holiday spots.

Mr Bell, the outgoing chief executive of Visit Cornwall, called tourists “f***ing emmets” in a recent interview. “Emmet” is an old term meaning “ant”.

While the industry leader will step down from his post in December, he offered his thoughts on the future of the tourism industry in the interview.

He told Cornwall Live: “In my mind, visitors fall into five unofficial categories.

“At one level you have friends, then you have guests, then you have tourists, then you have bloody tourists, then you have f***ing emmets. You can quote me on that.

“The challenge we have is to get the friends, guests and tourists, who get us, then try and convert the bloody tourists, but forget the awkward people who are ‘why haven’t you got this?’, ‘why haven’t you got that?’.

“It’s about targeting the right people at the right time of year.”

Mr Bell went on to say that these “emmets” go to Cornwall as a last resort instead of going abroad, and thus compares the region to other destinations.

He continued: “We’ve really come up through. We made ourselves the place to be, but half the country went abroad.

“Once you stopped them going abroad, we ended up with people here who didn’t want to be here. It’s settled down again now.”

Barry Jordan, Conservative councillor for Camelford and Boscastle, commented on Mr Bell’s interview, telling the Telegraph: “I hate the words ’emmet’ and ‘grockle’.

“They have no place in modern society. We welcome all tourists. Cornwall relies on tourism.”

Tourism in Cornwall boomed in the aftermath of the pandemic – holidaymakers unable to go abroad swapped the French Riviera for the south-western English coast.

By July 2020, Cornwall welcomed an extra 80,000 visitors as businesses opened for the first time since the country’s first national lockdown.

As people crowded beaches and cars jammed roads, locals expressed their fury at the sudden influx, with even a banner displayed over the A30 at Bodmin telling tourists to “f*** off”. At the time, Mr Bell described the sign as “offensive and unforgivable”.

In his interview with Cornwall Live over the weekend, Mr Bell continued: “Last year, in particular, should be a salutary note, like burning your fingers as a kid you learn not to do that again.

“It’s great having a good road system now but it does open us up, and the pandemic opened us up to things that were quite difficult to cope with.

“In the 1970s people were in Cornwall because they couldn’t afford a proper holiday and there were a lot of chips on shoulders, and we felt that again in those two years. It had come back around.”

After the interview was published, Mr Bell added: “I regret that the issue was not correctly communicated and that many will react to the headline.”

He reiterated that “the point I was making is there are very, very few visitors that do not like, love and care about Cornwall and they are the ones that annoy locals and do not show respect and hence getting called negatively”.

“The point I pressed was that the role of a tourist board must be to target its marketing and to invite those that will appreciate and join us in a love of Cornwall,” he said.

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