Tough year for tourism?

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Most south west hotels and tourism businesses suffered a decline in 2012 bookings from the ‘holy trinity’ of the London Olympics, economic gloom, and the wettest year for decades.

Will Hanbury
Will Hanbury

These are findings from the latest snap-survey by sector specialist Bishop Fleming.

The regional accountancy firm said 82% of respondents reported a decline in bookings, while 2013 business is not looking much better, with 90% reporting fewer or no change in booking levels.

While more than 54% have seen little change in UK or overseas bookings, just 9% report an increase in overseas bookings.

Germany remains the biggest source of overseas bookings for most south west respondents (45%), followed by the USA (18%) and both France and the Netherlands at 9%.

These findings mean that more than a third of south west hotels and tourism businesses (36%) predict a reduction of up to a tenth in their income, although 54% predict income unchanged or increased by up to a tenth.

Will Hanbury, head of Bishop Fleming’s Hotels & Tourism team, said: “Almost half of our respondents (45.5%) reported a massive increase in online bookings – with all other respondents accepting that online bookings have become much more important.

“As a result, almost two thirds (63.5%) have decided to change and expand their online booking facilities.

“More importantly, a massive majority (82%) have decided to change their product, their marketing, and their online presence as a result of the lessons they’ve learned from all that has been happening in the market.

“This is crucial for the south west’s future prospects in the fiercely competitive tourism market. This region has superb potential to prosper in that market, but it cannot be complacent and rely on an out-dated model of traditional seaside holidays.”