Staycations will provide a welcome boost, but further support is also required says Rudding Park Hotel boss
The boss of Harrogate’s most luxurious hotel is confident there will be a major tourism boom for the district this summer if the restrictions are eased as planned.
However, despite an expected thirst for staycations as uncertainty surrounds international travel, the hospitality industry will still rely on continued support from the Government, he said.
Peter Banks, managing director of Rudding Park, pictured, said the phone had been “ringing off the hook” with enquiries since the Prime Minister announced his roadmap out of lockdown.
And while Mr Banks accepted that the rise of the ‘staycation’ was a positive boost for the industry, he stressed that hotels and other holiday accommodation providers were selling service space and could therefore only sell so much.
He said: “The staycation thing will be massive and it will drive demand. However, the Government doesn’t seem to quite understand that the vast majority of hospitality businesses in this country are rammed in summer anyway.”
He argued that most providers did not have anymore rooms to sell and therefore could not catch-up financially by extending working hours like at a factory for example.
“We sell service space. Once you are full, you can’t sell it again.”
Therefore, he stressed it was vital that the Government continued to offer business rates relief and VAT deferral.
“We only have so much space to fill. Therefore we need Government assistance, which is business rates and VAT relief. This is fundamental for this industry. I can’t stress that enough.
“It is vital for hotels, restaurants and pubs, which are literally just trying to stay afloat.
“A year ago, there were 2.5m people employed in the hospitality industry. We lost 500,000 in two weeks last March and now there are less than two million in work. That’s half a million out of a job.
“But we have to be hopeful,” he added.
“There is one thing I have learnt in 35 years at the spearhead of hospitality; No matter how bad today is, the world will keep turning. The sun will come up tomorrow. Our job is to take every opportunity we have got. You have to be creative and positive. You have got to crack on.”
Mr Banks said plans had been put in place for a phased reopening of the award-winning hotel, which has 90 bedrooms and suites, a destination spa, two restaurants, a kitchen garden and a private cinema. It also has golf courses and a driving range, which will be the first to reopen on March 29.
However, Mr Banks said it had not been easy to plan due to “a fog of different directives” from the Government.