A ROAD closure that has been in force for more than two years now will affect the tourism industry in a popular Herefordshire destination, landlords fear.

As lockdown eases and the tourism industry is allowed to restart in England on June 4, holiday let, hotel and campsite owners are gearing up to welcome customers through their doors.

But for some in Symonds Yat, the coronavirus pandemic has not been the only barrier to business.

Mr and Mrs May, who own one of many holiday lets in Symonds Yat West, said: “We’re really pleased that we can have people stay in our cottage, but it’s a qualified happiness, as things won’t go back to normal.

“Our cottage is impacted by the closure of the C1257, the road that has been closed for over two years, due to a landslip on the hill. With this, the recent flooding, and the virus, we have been badly financially hit. We have been taking bookings for August, but when guests are warned about the road, and the narrow byway that has to be used instead, they just cancel!

“Obviously, due to the virus, there will be challenges, such as extra deep cleaning, and gaps between bookings, but it’s all a bit unknown at the moment. It may be challenging for the first few months, but something is better than nothing!”

A similar opinion was reflected by local cleaner Ally Prince, whose business has been badly hit due to the closure of holiday lets. “I was enjoying the rest, but it has been a struggle financially," Ms Price said.

"I don’t reckon the holiday lets will be that busy, because of the road closure which puts many tourists off.”

But the outlook is more positive for others in the area, which was badly hit by flooding in February.

The Old Court Hotel in Symonds Yat was damaged in the floods, but owners Victoria and Jono Smith-Milne said they were ready to open from 12pm on June 4, with repairs carried out during lockdown.

They will be operating using an app and full table service, while staff have received new training and rigorous hygiene measures are in place.

The Doward Park Campsite will open too, owners Sarah Gardiner and Chris Hodsman have vowed.

“We were due to open at the start of April, but we had to close due to the lockdown," the couple said.

“It’s been quite difficult, as it’s a seasonal trade and we rely on money at the start of the season. However, we’ve been very lucky, as many customers that had bookings decided to postpone rather than cancel, and we’ve had a lot of nice supportive emails.

“We’ve kept ourselves very busy during lockdown, completing some long-awaited improvements and making the site look great for our eagerly-awaited reopening on July 4, and selling ice creams and cold drinks.

“The campsite pitches are well-spaced, we’re in the fresh air and our toilet and shower facilities will be given additional cleaning.

“With the closure of the campsite, the wildlife has been taking over. We have deer sleeping on the pitches and playground, which we have seen on the wildlife cameras, along with foxes, badgers, rabbits and squirrels!”