The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) has called for extra measures to help hoteliers as the coronavirus outbreak has seen occupancy rates at hotels in Bristol fall to roughly half the levels they usually are in March.
The BHA said levels among its members are currently between 30 and 40%- with most hotels usually around 80% occupancy for the month of March.
Those rates are expected to have fallen further, to around 10 to 15% over the next two weeks.
Raphael Herzog, BHA chair, has been in contact with Bristol North West MP Thangam Debbonaire about the impact of the virus on the hospitality industry.The BHA is now hosting weekly conference calls among hotel general managers, sharing “feedback, experiences and ideas” .
Earlier this week, chancellor Rishi Sunak promised to do “whatever it takes” to support the UK economy and introduced a number of measures designed to help businesses in the hospitality sector, including a 12-month business rates ‘holiday’, the offer of measures to help pay salaries and rents, and a relaxation of planning legislation to enable pubs and restaurants to provide takeaway services without the need to submit a planning application.
While Herzog has welcomed the measures he has called for the government to go a step further, including:
- A VAT-cut to encourage consumers to book trips and holidays so that trade can resume as soon as possible once the virus threat is over
- Slash the rate of National Insurance Contributions for one year, to help with the retention of staff.
- Ensure the insurers are suitably supported to assist businesses experiencing cancellations
- At least delaying, if not reviewing, the implementation of a points-based immigration system, due to be introduced on 1 January 2021, which will have a huge impact on the ability of hotels, as well as other industries such as the care sector, to recruit staff
- Ensure that insurers are suitably supported to assist businesses which are experiencing widespread cancellations
- Postpone until September the proposed April increase in National Minimum Wage and the Living Wage, to ease the financial burden on struggling businesses
He said: “Among BHA members, it’s estimated there will be a revenue loss of at least £3 million through March and April, which is a massive drop which cannot be sustained. Or even more when hotels will be forced to close.
“After the crisis is over, we will need time to rebuild, which is why I believe we should not be restricted on who we are able to employ. The points-based immigration system should be delayed until at least mid-2022, to help the hospitality industry recover from this crisis.”
The BHA represents 40 major hotels in the city, with around 4,000 rooms.