“Flippant” weather forecasters could cost Cornwall’s tourism sector as much as £60 million in lost revenues this year, the county’s tourism chief has warned.
VisitCornwall head Malcolm Bell said, with the tourism industry already depressed by this year’s downpours, sign-off comments from forecasters aiming to raise a smile with viewers and listeners, were putting them off making a booking.
Mr Bell said if visitor numbers did not pick up, the industry could suffer an overall 4% downturn over the year – a loss of £60 million to the local economy, including around £28 million in visitor spending with food, drink and retail businesses. June downpours led to a fall of around 20% in volumes for some of the county’s tourism businesses, he added.
Mr Bell is now calling for tourism businesses to pressure forecasters to cut the quips.
He said: “I ask the industry, where justified, to contact the TV programme directors each time a flippant comment is made, to remind them they are there to deliver accurate and professional forecasts and not try to be stand-up comics at our expense – let alone turn a drama into a crisis.
“Rather than provide more detailed local forecasts and highlight the days when it will be dry, let alone fair and sunny, they are obsessed with making a bad situation far worse than it should be.
“I have lobbied the Met Office over the years and by and large they are very professional and in the short term provide accurate forecasts. It is the throw-away lines by presenters that are making a bad situation far worse.”
VisitCornwall has launched a wet-weather blog, highlighting wet weather activities on its website. And Mr Bell has called on the Met Office to back his organisation’s “silver lining” approach to the summer cloudbursts.
He said: “Rather than help the great British public in these difficult and austere times to have some fun and pleasure in their free time, they seem obsessed to make them even more depressed.
“Others appear to delight in an issue that may be superficial or insignificant to them, but is critical and where jobs and businesses can be at risk from inaccurate and misleading comments.”
A Met Office spokesman said its weather reporters permanently based at media organisations including the BBC, tended to follow house-styles set by the broadcasters.
He said: “I don’t think anyone would disagree when we say that the weather so far this June, and the early part of July has been rather disappointing with a good deal of wet and windy weather for many of us.”
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