Whilst I am sure the answer to this question is yes, there are signs that the credit crunch is hitting North Wales’ outdoor industry with the force of a freight train. Whilst freelance work is usually pretty low on the ground this time of year, there seems to be even less than usual.
One centre recently made all its ‘teachers’ redundent, and offered them the oppotunity to reapply for there posts under different terms and conditions. At least another two centres I know of are seeing a record fall in student numbers, and could well close down by the end of the year. These are Local Education Authority centres that once close will be very unlikely to reopen as the government and local authorities strive to cut there budgets. Meaning that this sector of the market will no longer be provided by instructors with Education qualifications and a strong centre ethos of the educational benefits of learning in the outdoors, but by smaller ‘activity centres’, whose ethos is on fun and adventure rather than ‘education’, and sadly those skills of using the outdoor classroom to develop children will be watered down, and perhaps eventually lost.
Whilst another large centre cancelled two weeks of courses due to such low uptake that those courses were no longer financially viable. This same centre also appears to not be renewing annual contracts to staff, instead trying to offer them work as, when and if it appears.
Yet another centre was pretty much unoccupied by students for about two months before christmas, and most others are getting by on skeleton staff, employing only a small number of freelance staff, and only if they can’t rearrange there permanent staffs rotas to fit this.
What this means for North Wales who knows, but around ten years ago the Outdoor and Adventure Tourism Industry accounted for £140 million pounds of the local economy. After local councils it was the biggest part of the Economy.
What it seems to be meaning for me is that there simply isn’t any work. I have done about four days work since October, and at present I have two days booked in March. So its pretty bleak, and I am certainly not the only person whose work is drying up, if only the weather stayed like it was for the last few days, at least we could get out playing on the rock.
My prediction is there’ll be less outdoor centres in North Wales by the end of the year than there are right now. Those that do survive will be laying off staff and getting by on a skeleton crew.
…and then theres the outdoor shops…