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Police and Crime Commissioner writes open letter to tourists

To whom it may concern

I know that Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are much loved by the British people. In fact our beautiful part of the world receives more domestic visitors each year - 40m night stays a year - than any other force area by some margin (London is in second place with just 23m nights).

From my office in Exeter it’s not hard to see why. The rolling hills of East Devon descend to the coastline, which runs 700 miles around Land’s End, taking in some of the most spectacular scenery that this country has to offer. Usually at this time of year people throng to our part of the world for great surfing, stunning moorland, world-class coastal resorts and pubs and restaurants that give a warm Westcountry welcome to visitors of all walks of life.

Sadly, in this extraordinary year we have had to ask would-be tourists and second home owners to come back later. As a mum to a 12-year-old girl I know how important family time is and that when people have to cancel hard-earned holidays it can be hugely disappointing for them, as well as devastating for our economy, which depends so heavily on the tourist pound.

Unfortunately the response is absolutely necessary. My job, and that of the police force’s, is to protect the most vulnerable in society. Devon and Cornwall have more residents for whom coronavirus poses a threat to life than other parts of the country. Keeping them safe is my priority.

The vast majority of people have read and understood the Government’s clear message that people should not travel on non-essential journeys, their compliance is helping to stop the spread of this deadly virus and enabling our hospitals to cope. The minority who choose to flout the guidance and who head to the Westcountry while restrictions are in place are not receiving the usual warm welcome we give our visitors, either from residents whose safety they risk or our police force, who will enforce the regulations.

We will miss you terribly in the next few months and when all this is over will welcome you – and your surfboards - with open arms! The cream teas, sandy beaches and smiles will wait, but this is not the time for a holiday, it’s a national emergency, and we need your help to overcome it.

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly