Tourism bosses and politicians across the UK have urged tourists to stay away from holiday destinations to help tackle the spread of coronavirus.

They warn that travellers from other towns and cities will put a strain on rural supermarkets and health services.

The government urged people to avoid travelling “unless it is essential” as part of its guidance on social distancing.

The notice was issued for people planning to visit second homes or holiday premises during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays,” it said.

“People should remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.”

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls tweeted: “People who work in in tourism are normally super welcoming but please, no non-essential travel – if you are heading for Cornwall, Dorset, Norfolk, North Wales, Lakes, Highlands & Islands etc you are spreading the virus to remote rural areas with fewer hospitals and GPs #StayAtHome.”

A statement from Visit Cornwall on Friday (March 20), said: “Despite the lack of clarity from the government, Visit Cornwall is advising that visitors should not come to Cornwall at this time.

“In order to slow the spread of the virus, to protect themselves, as well as the communities of Cornwall, we are asking people to postpone visiting Cornwall until a later date.”

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, said on Twitter: “To 2nd homers in Norfolk: PLS DON’T flee London to come here.

“You risk spreading virus; Norfolk’s pubs are closed & shops don’t need 2nd homers; Norfolk’s retired elderly population is at high risk; Our NHS needs to focus on our vulnerable.”

In Scotland, the rural economy and tourism secretary Fergus Ewing has told people to stop travelling to the Highlands and Islands in a bid to avoid the virus.

People with second homes and campervans have been reportedly travelling to the area in recent days.

He said: “I am furious at the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of some people travelling to the Highland and Islands. This has to stop now.

“Let me be crystal clear, people should not be travelling to rural and island communities full stop. They are endangering lives. Do not travel.

“Panic buying will have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of rural shops and potentially puts unwanted pressure on NHS services in our rural communities.

“The Scottish government’s advice is that essential travel only should be undertaken. We have been in touch with CalMac and industry leaders to discuss what further measures may be required to deal with this issue.”

Cumbria police said yesterday: “Would-be tourists are being urged not to travel to the Lakes or other Cumbrian holiday destinations.

“Now that pubs, restaurants, cafes and non-essential shops and visitor attractions have been advised to close, the Lake District is no longer conducting business as usual.

“Whilst it is encouraging that the Highways Agency have reported fewer vehicle journeys than normal, it is clear that we, along with other tourist areas such as Cornwall, Wales and Scotland, are continuing to experience an influx of travelling visitors.”

A statement from VisitScotland says: “In light of Covid-19, everyone’s health and safety is the most important thing. This means despite the love and desire to share our friendly, passionate and unique country, we must ask everyone at this time not to travel to or around Scotland. Please stay safe everyone.”

Domestic resorts brands such as Haven, Butlins and Warner Leisure have closed their doors temporarily while operators with domestic coach holidays, such as Shearings, have suspended tours.

The National Trust has closed all parks and gardens, in addition to its houses, shops and cafes, “to avoid crowding that puts social distancing at risk”.

Meanwhile, Royal Parks, responsible for Hyde, Regent’s and St James’ Parks in London, are closing kiosks and cafes while roads to its outer London parks, including Richmond, Bushy and Greenwich, will be closed to traffic. All the park’s visitor centres are now temporarily closed.

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