Hospitality chief’s fears as cancellations hit 50% under Covid Plan B

By Ollie Heptinstall   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Friday 17th December 2021 1:00 pm
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CANCELLATION rates of ‘over 50 per cent’ could lead to some Devon hospitality businesses going bust, a leading industry figure has warned.

The government is coming under increasing pressure to offer financial support to the sector, with covid ‘plan B’ measures and the surge in Omicron cases prompting people to rethink festive plans.

Rhys Roberts, a director of both Best Western Hotels and Visit Devon, told a Team Devon meeting of local leaders that the number and rate of cancellations is ‘far greater than those being reported currently’.

He said businesses report more than half of bookings being cancelled, indicating ‘the general public are operating their own lockdown procedures and have decided it’s not safe for them to go out.’

Mr Roberts said they were lobbying industry bodies and the treasury for more support: ‘because we see this as being significant and it will last throughout the festive season, which is obviously a critical part of the trading year for most hospitality businesses.’

‘So the picture’s not very good at the moment, and let’s hope it’s short-term rather than longer. But we do fear for some businesses regarding their survival. They needed this income at this particular time….and we fear we may lead to more failures I’m afraid.’

Chief executive of Devon County Council, Phil Norrey, said he and other local authority leaders were ‘lobbying very hard’ for the government to quickly consider support measures for the industry ‘at their most profitable time of the year’.

‘We’ll just have to see the degree of sympathy to which the treasury responds with this, but we’re very aware that there were a lot of businesses that were struggling anyway.’

Mr Norrey added: ‘We’re doing our best to get behind the sector because it’s really important for our local places that our hospitality industry gets through this and out the other side and can thrive again.’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has cut short an official trip to the United States so he can hold talks with business leaders after criticism from Labour. He says the government will continue to do ‘whatever it takes’ to support ‘lives and livelihoods.’

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