The economic benefits of a new rural hotel spread far and wide, says Robin Hutson
The start of 2020 finds us knee-deep in our latest hotel project, the Pig at Harlyn Bay in Cornwall. It’s pretty substantial. We’re converting a 17th-century listed farmhouse into a 30-bedroom hotel – a £12m project planned to open in May.
We are now in the final stages. Recruitment is well under way and all of the other disciplines are coming together – sales, marketing and local PR – and kitting the hotel out is uppermost in our minds. At this stage in a project it always strikes me just how important this type of enterprise is in regard to the socio-economic benefits to a local rural community. With the fragmentation and dilution of the manufacturing industries in rural areas, very often significant hospitality industries become the largest commercial employers for miles around.
Without such enterprises rural Britain would be a very different and less prosperous place. By the time the hotel is in full swing we will employ around
100 people, many of whom will have moved to the area to takeup new opportunities with us.
We will also employ a good number of local workers. Of course, the economic effect doesn’t stop at just direct employees. There are myriad businesses that will benefit, as our 25-mile sourcing philosophy will ensure that we buy goods and services from local companies. From the local cheesemakers to landlords; window cleaners to those delivering firewood, the list is lengthy.
The benefits to local retailers from an influx of 60 hotel residents each night should also not be underestimated. With holiday money burning holes in their pockets, many shops and other services will prosper. Of course, we will be encouraging our guests to eat and drink with us, but additionally they will want to explore the amazing array of pubs, restaurants and food offerings in the area. Even the taxi drivers, service stations, surf schools and other local tourist attractions will enjoy another rich stream of business.
So imagine the national effect of the thousands of rural hospitality businesses on both the economy and the wider social fabric. There must be literally billions of pounds worth of financial benefit to rural areas and unmeasurable social enrichment across the country.
Financial gain is just one very crude measurement of the worth to these rural communities. The energy and community engagement that comes with these often young teams is arguably a much more valuable contribution. Charitable involvement, the participation in local clubs and societies and the longer-term benefit of mixing a younger demographic into an often ageing population has an energising effect.
Over the past 10 years we alone have created some 900 new jobs and, by the time our current pipeline is complete, the count will sit at 1,000 well-paid, prospect-filled, full-time jobs. We will have invested in excess of £100m into rural England and rescued some important historical buildings along the way. Our ripple effect from these projects will run to tens of millions.
So all I ask is for this new government to take our industry seriously and recognise the force for good that is rural hospitality.
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