The G7 Summit Could Do Wonders For Cornwall

Photo by Sandra Ahn Mode on Unsplash

The 47th G7 Summit is planned to be held in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, 11–13 June 2021. In addition to the seven member states and representatives from the European Union, leaders from Australia, India and South Korea have also been invited. The United States President Joe Biden and the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will be attending for the first time.

What is the G7?

The Group of Seven (G7) is an organisation consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. It used to be the G8, but Russia was suspended in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea, and has now left permanently. The main purpose of the group is to discuss and if necessary act, to help resolve global issues, particularly economic problems.

What is a summit?

Each member state holds the presidency for one year, and during that time they are responsible for organising and hosting the annual summit. On average each country will hold a summit every seven years. The meetings are held so the leaders can all get together in one location to discuss the most important world issues. The 2020 summit did not take place because of the pandemic.

Where is Carbis Bay?

Carbis Bay is a coastal village in west Cornwall, not far from St Ives. It can be reached by road and rail, although car journeys from London take a long time as there are no motorways in Cornwall. The nearest airports are Newquay and Exeter.

How could Cornwall benefit?

The world leaders, their associated staff, their security teams, the media and the extra police will all have to stay somewhere and will all require feeding. This will give a welcome boost to the hotels, guesthouses and restaurants in the immediate vicinity, which have suffered greatly because of the recent pandemic restrictions. Cornwall relies more on tourism than probably any other region in the UK, and no visitors has meant no jobs and no money.

With so many important people in one place, media coverage should be extensive. However, even though the summit is important, the talks take place behind closed doors, so the news teams may struggle to find enough content to fill their allotted time. Hopefully they will add video footage of the beautiful Cornish scenery and discuss Cornwall and its culture and heritage.

The summit will put Cornwall in the spotlight and possibly remind politicians that there is life outside of London. Although the region is known as a holiday destination, it seems to be forgotten when the big decisions are made in the city. The county has an unusual past, having been virtually separate from England for a long time, with its own language, culture and traditions. In 2014 the UK government officially recognised the Cornish as a national minority, and Cornwall is known as one of the six celtic nations. This uniqueness is not always appreciated by people outside the region, so perhaps this will be discussed.

Local councillors and politicians may be able to use the attention raised by the summit to initiate discussions regarding Cornwall and its problems. Although the region is often portrayed as a sunny holiday destination, where everyone lives by the sea, the reality is somewhat different. Cornwall is one of the poorest counties in the UK and there is a lot of unemployment in certain areas. With the mines closed and the fishing fleet reduced, most jobs are now linked to the tourist industry. The average wage is one of the lowest in the country, but ironically house prices are some of the highest outside London. So many properties have been bought as second homes or holiday lets, that locals can no longer afford to buy a house.

Cornwall is often associated with mining, farming, fishing and more recently tourism, but it has often been at the forefront of technological and environmental projects as well. If some of these are highlighted it may encourage other such industries to invest in the region and bring much needed employment.

Are there any negatives?

Anyone who has been to Cornwall in the summer will know how busy it gets. June is not quite as hectic as July and August, but the narrow roads soon become congested, and the likely increase caused by the summit may lead to more traffic jams and accidents.

Hosting a summit with up to ten world leaders means security will be vital. Extra police and security specialists will be drafted in, and based on other summits, some areas will be heavily restricted, even to locals.

Although the pandemic may be under control by June, some say the summit should not take place in Cornwall, but ought to be held virtually using video conference technology.

Why Cornwall?

There are probably many reasons why Carbis Bay in Cornwall was chosen for the summit, but one possible explanation is that Boris Johnson has close connections with the area. His great grandparents lived there for many years and his father was born in Penzance hospital.

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