For the first time since 1976, we have enjoyed a blisteringly hot summer. The sun has shone relentlessly down on the country, bringing hordes of holidaymakers onto the motorways of Britain, heading for the sea.
So much so that Cornwall issued a ‘cannot cope’ warning last week. Visitor numbers are already up by about 20% on the 4.5 million who usually flock to the region at this time of year.
Cornwall’s tourism chief Malcolm Bell claims the county is “struggling to cope” and the tourist board has decided to stop promoting a few of the most popular beaches.
And the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands is under siege from a massive surge in visitors. This has put the island’s infrastructure under pressure. Trends elsewhere suggest that the UK hotel industry will need to be able to cope with higher demand.
But on a positive note, imagine the joy of hotel owners and caterers as the mercury rises. It’s not just coastal areas that are eagerly looking forward to profits at the end of the year. London is expecting over 9,000 hotel rooms to open. This is more than the 8,000 rooms that opened in 2012, the Olympic year.
2017 had a boost to inbound holidays from the weak pound. But despite fears of a lull in 2018, there is a lot of optimism. Factors influencing travel to the UK in 2018 were the Royal Wedding, Farnborough International Air Show, the European Sports Championships in Scotland, the Gymnastics World Cup in Birmingham and the Terracotta Warriors to the World Museum in Liverpool.
The International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF2018) was held back in March and good news came from it. Last year economic outlook at the time was cautious, but this year, there was plenty of optimism.
Marc Socker, Managing Director of investment management firm Invesco, asserted that there was more interest than he had ever seen in the sector. “First and foremost, hotels is a growth sector,” also pointing out that only 4% of Chinese nationals currently have passports and 5% of Indians. In addition, it is quite mind-boggling to realise that 90% of Americans do not have passports. “Every increase of 1% (in those populations with passports) leads to tens of millions of new travellers coming into the European market,” he maintained.
After this summer, with the forecast for more similar sun-baked summers to follow, investors could do worse than put their money into resorts and complexes. The UK has a wealth of coastal accommodation. With hotter and longer summers, the UK hotel industry is ideally positioned to attract new investment and offer the UK as an alternative to other European or Mediterranean destinations.
The UK has one of the best heritages of any country. It is renowned for its historic locations and its excellent cuisine. Some of the best chefs in the world were if not born here, then settled and opened restaurants here. The UK hotel industry has to seize every opportunity to attract visitors and tempt them to the country’s shores.