End of season bounce for hoteliers

Winter Rule partner Tom Roach
Winter Rule partner Tom Roach

Holiday businesses in Cornwall benefitted from the late summer sunshine with hotel occupancy up 2.1% in September compared to the same time last year, new figures show.

The end of season bounce suggests that the impact of recession is starting to bottom out, although the industry still has some way to go to recover to the pre-credit crunch levels of 2007.

The figures have been published by the tourism team at accountants Winter Rule who have been surveying the Cornish hotel sector every month for the last 20 years. They use the data to keep tourism clients informed about the very latest trends.

Partner and team leader Tom Roach said: “September’s Indian summer was a welcome boost for many and this is the biggest monthly increase we have seen in more than 18 months. Although the industry is still down on last year overall, it’s a marked improvement on where we were six months ago.

“We’re still nowhere near 2007 levels but our data suggests that the decline has abated and the industry is starting to see a recovery, so the summer was not the washout that many people assumed.”

Roach was also upbeat about the outlook for next year. The continued strength of the Euro meant more people would look to holiday at home and it made Cornwall more attractive to overseas visitors.

Meanwhile low interest rates are thought unlikely to rise significantly in the next 12 months and although this would hit savers it meant that many people had more disposable income.

Tom said hoteliers were also urging next season’s customers to pay a deposit before the end of the year to avoid January’s VAT increase.

He explained: “VAT is going back up to 17.5% from January 1 so deposits paid now are liable for VAT at 15% regardless of whether the stay is before or after the New Year. Any balance paid after January 1 will be liable for the increased rate so cost-conscious holidaymakers can save cash if they pay up front.

“Some of our hotel clients have started to market this fact in order to attract more deposits, and that will improve their cashflow during the quieter winter months when many of them will be looking to renegotiate overdrafts and invest in their premises for next season.”

The Winter Rule monthly hotel survey covers 25 of Cornwall’s key hotels of different sizes and markets which between them offer more than 800,000 bed nights a year.