Southampton Region Hoteliers Association Prepares for the Industries Comeback

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Whilst the hospitality industry is still busy digesting the content of the PM’s Covid announcement on Monday, the Southampton Region Hoteliers Association are busy working on the roadmap set out for their leisure and event reopening. 

The long-standing collaborative group that consists of hotels and hospitality venues across the Southampton region, have been continuously supporting and working together throughout this challenging time. 

After Boris Johnson’s roadmap announcement on the 22 February, it seems finally the hospitality industry can see a light at the end of the tunnel that has forced them to close their doors for many months, however, there is still some uncertainty for the industry as hospitality and events remain last on the list of reopenings and still face another three-four months of closures.  

Nathan Chart, Chair of the Southampton Region Hoteliers Association said, “I welcome the road map laid out by the Government and am pleased to have reopening dates for our members to work towards for our teams and guests alike. 

I support the Government’s attempts to ensure an irreversible reopening of our economy and recognise the balancing act they must tread. However, I am disappointed that hospitality appears to have been given less priority by the Government than other sectors, such as non-essential retail and will be one of the last businesses to open. 

Our industry has worked tirelessly to ensure hotels operate in a Covid secure way and we stand ready to welcome leisure guests, something I believe could have been allowed from 12th April for single household bookings. 

With at least 3 further months until our hotels can welcome leisure guests back, we now eagerly look to the Chancellor’s budget next week to ensure the continuation of support is offered through an extension of business rate relief, the continuation of 5% VAT and furlough to support our industry as it rebuilds through the remainder of this year.

One thing is for certain, hotels are ready and waiting to welcome guests for a great British summer staycation!

The reopening of hotels will be a much welcomed relief for many, but until the events industry is allowed to catch up, hoteliers will still be facing a debilitating knock-on effect to their income streams. 

Many who offer weddings and functions will still be looking at the tail end of June at the earliest before restrictions are lifted, and local large scale city events which bring many economic benefits to the city, including overnight and weekend stays, still face a long wait until normality resumes. However, the roadmap does signify the end of a long and painful road for the industry, and the glimmer of hope has been welcomed by many. 

Shirley Wynne-Jones, MD of Destination Southampton comments, “Monday’s announcements brought some welcome news to the event sector, specifically a cautious re-start for the event industry from 17th May, with safety measures in place.  

We will be working closely with organisers of major business events in the city to provide additional support with their event plans, furthermore I am certain Southampton will once more be a vibrant destination for major events and business conferences following the expected end to lockdown measures in June 2021.”

The Government has planned for controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50% capacity, outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people. They are also set to make special provisions for large, outdoor, seated venues if guests can be safely distanced which could allow up to 10,000 people or a total seated capacity of 25%.

Other key dates for the industry include: 

From the 12th April

  • Wakes and Wedding Receptions for up to 15 guests can take place.
  • Hospitality venues can serve guests outside subject to the rule of 6 or 2 households (although this may not be commercially viable for many hotels)
  • Self-contained accommodation for single households such as apartments (excluding hotel rooms )

 

From the 17th May

  • Hotels can reopen to all guests subject to the rule of 6 or two households
  • Wedding Receptions and wakes for a maximum of 30 guests can take place
  • Indoor Events up to 1000 people or 50% of capacity

 

From the 21st June

  • Rule of 6 and household limits no longer apply to groups in hotels
  • No limit on capacity for life events such as wedding receptions and wakes

Overall the roadmap offers something positive for these severely hit industries to work to, but only time will tell if the end truly is in sight as we all cautiously emerge from lockdown.