BUSINESS on the Welsh border could have lost out on up to £25 million due to the Hay Festival not going ahead in its usual form.

Hay-on-Wye Chamber of Trade said the 10-day festival brings a multi-million pound boost to the town's independent businesses, but due to the coronavirus pandemic this was lost this year.

Chairman of the chamber Josh Boyd-Green said it was a “huge blow to the town” that the festival was forced to go digital.

“It’s good it went ahead online, it was in people’s minds and Hay, the town, will get a lot of press coverage and that will be good for the future and for next year’s festival,” he added.

“But in the immediate, it’s very detrimental to the town. A few businesses got a little bit of trade online as the festival was generous with sharing details of businesses, but that’s very minor in comparison.”

But it comes amid fresh hopes the season might not be completely over for the tourism sector in Wales, the first minister said.

Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government would do “all we can” to provide “some relief” to the industry later in the summer, but the idea Wales’ tourism sector would “simply go back to normal” is not worth thinking about.

Asked about the best case scenario for tourism in Wales, Mr Drakeford said the government might consider allowing some forms of the sector to open, such as self-contained accommodation.

He added: “There is a distinction between those travelling to a place where they have their own kitchen and bathroom, for example, and those travelling somewhere where they will be sharing those things.

“If there is anything practical we can do to offer the tourism sector something for this season, we will look into doing it. However, it has to be with the consent of the local community, and it cannot make the R-rate go up.”

Mr Boyd-Green shared the optimism of the Welsh Government, but reiterated the point the differing lockdown restrictions in Wales are causing confusion.

He said it becomes “difficult” when businesses in Cusop can reopen, but not those less than a mile away in Hay-on-Wye.

“At some point, people will be able to travel more in Wales,” he said as the government continues to push a “stay local” message, asking people not to travel more than five miles.

“Hay is right on the border, it’s a beautiful town, it’s got lots of wonderful shops, it’s got all of the beautiful countryside around it and those businesses.

“So I think if people are holidaying in Britain, the summer could be busier that what people expect.

“That’s what I’m hoping for.”