The “devastating quick impact” on hospitality of the Omicron variant means the “damage has already been done” according to BWH Hotel Group GB, with 72% of its independently owned hotels reporting an increase in Christmas cancellations.
The survey, conducted 1 December, also revealed that 89% of its independent hoteliers are now concerned about the festive trading period.
Over two-thirds of the hotels added they are also more concerned about business and guest confidence in Q1 2022 because of the new variant.
Tim Rumney, CEO of the 300 strong BWH Hotel Group GB, said: “We have had a week of mixed messages about whether people should socialise or not, cancel parties or not and small, independent businesses like our hotels are on the front line feeling the effects of that indecision.
“My fear is the damage is already done, and this festive period will need to be written off like last Christmas, which will be devastating for many small businesses who were hoping for a strong end to 2021, after the last two years of Covid interrupted trading.”
In addition, BHW revealed 70% of its hotels have seen a decrease in bookings since the announcement of the new variant with booking levels now hotels’ number one ranked concern going into 2022.
Other top ranked concerns amongst the independent hoteliers included attracting new staff, supplier costs rising and increasing VAT costs.
Rumney added: “We need clarity from the top – not confusion between what the Government is saying and what health chiefs are saying – because these figures show the impact Omicron is already having on consumer confidence. Businesses can’t plan properly; customers can’t plan properly. The curse of Covid Christmas past has returned to haunt us unfortunately.
“Next year, hospitality needs to be top of the priority list for the Government when it comes to support, an extension of reduction in VAT is vital to support small, independent businesses who once again are suffering, are struggling and worried about business levels, and need support to get through this pandemic.”