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UK hoteliers lose out to European rivals

26 July 2007 by
UK hoteliers lose out to European rivals

The bad weather has not only impacted hospitality operators directly hit by the floods, according to research released this week.

June figures from online booking agent Laterooms.com showed a surge of bookings for European weekend breaks as UK hoteliers felt the financial brunt of a downturn in coastal breaks.

While tourist destinations on the coast, such as Bournemouth, Blackpool and Torquay, face a summer of cutting their rates to boost booking levels, sales of hotel rooms in major European city destinations have boomed compared with last year.

Sales of rooms in UK coastal destinations remained static when comparing June 2006 with June 2007 and were not growing at the same rate as rivals in the market. The average sales increase to European destinations was 33%, while some cities had shown 55% growth. The number one city-break destination abroad was Rome, followed by Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and Milan.

Tony Walsh, development director at Laterooms, said: "Coastal destinations will have to drop their rates to attract visitors. The weather has taken things out of their hands. The only thing they can hope for is to get people in and hope they spend on food and beverage."

Kurt Janson, policy director at the Tourism Alliance, said the poor figures were a concern. "The season got off to a great start in March, April and May, but June and July have been disappointing," he said. "If things pick up in August it will still be a reasonable season but if the weather continues as it is then some businesses will feel the squeeze."

However, the perception of ongoing congestion at UK airports could work in favour of UK operators, Janson added.

By Christopher Walton

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