Consumer belt-tightening in the face of the recession, the weakening pound and good weather in some parts of Britain have contributed to a busy Easter for many hospitality operators.
Feedback from the industry is that this year’s Easter weekend was an active one for restaurants and hotels, with the low pound driving increased numbers of European visitors to London and countryside and seaside destinations seeing rises in domestic travel.
Research commissioned by VisitBritain shows that while the number of people planning trips over the Easter break was similar to previous years, there was a shift in choice of destination – with more people opting to stay in England than go abroad. According to figures, 73 per cent of people surveyed planned to holiday in England, up from 67 per cent in 2008 and 61 per cent in 2007.
Baba Hines, owner of Corse Lawn country house hotel in Gloucestershire said that she had seen a definite improvement on bookings compared with last year.
“We were full for the whole of Easter, and there’s also been a lot of demand for April and May, which is promising. I spoke to quite a few of the guests and I’d say about 25 per cent of them had come to us rather than going abroad this year.”
Sir Thomas Ingilby, proprietor of The Boar`s Head in Ripley near Harrogate, also noticed an increase in occupancy, which he put down to the good weather. “It was a good Easter. We were helped by exceptionally nice weather - it was probably far more weather-related than it was recession-related though because people are still leaving it late to book things, and being unpredictable.
“Our guests were almost entirely from Britain and quite a few mentioned that they will be staying in the UK this year – I think people are really feeling how expensive it is booking Europe this year.”
For restaurateur and chef Anthony Flinn, who owns four restaurants and a food emporium in Leeds, “Friday and Saturday were storming and up on last year. There were a lot of bodies but it was quiet on the Sunday as people tend to spend time with their families.”
However, Chef Simon Hulstone (pictured), of The Elephant restaurant in Torquay said that while he had noticed an increase in covers this year, people were spending less.
“It’s been positives and negatives really. We were up on cover numbers but down on spend - without a doubt. There were more people about in Torquay and at the restaurant but they were the fish and chippers, not the wine and diners. The UK is going to have a good year I think, but people are scared to spend pounds – when you’re abroad you don’t really understand Euros or dollars, but when people are looking at things in pounds it’s different.”
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