Guernsey hotels are anticipating it will be 2022 before the hospitality sector sees a normal level of income again, following on from the corona virus pandemic.
Although many are choosing to 'staycation' this year and the air bridge to the Isle of Man has given the island a boost, most local hotels are still operating well below their usual occupancy levels for the summer season.
"The pandemic has had a severely damaging effect on our industry," said Acting Leads of the Guernsey Hospitality Association and General Managers of the Duke of Normandie Hotel, Alan and Aine Sillett. "Every business suddenly went to zero income within a space of a few days near the end of March. There have been many job losses and business owners have had to make some very difficult decisions to survive this extremely challenging period."
Hotels were some of the last businesses to open up after lockdown and are expected to take a big hit in the long term, along with travel operators.
Pictured: The Peninsula Hotel has closed its doors for the rest of the year as a result of the virus.
"We are fortunate that, as from the end of May, we have been able to open up to on-island businesses, which has meant that our food and beverage trade has been ticking over and keeping our teams occupied," added Mr and Mrs Sillett. "The island's restaurants and bars are trading reasonably well but we are all, of course, missing tourists and business visitors which would help us get back to somewhere near normal levels of revenue.
"It should be pointed out that many hotels are operating with occupancy levels of around 10 to 15% at a time, when it is normally in the 90% region. Revenue levels have been decimated."
Although it's been suggested that Guernsey's borders could reopen again in September, future covid waves and fear of travel could put people off holidaying for some time yet.
"To predict when the hotel sector might see meaningful trade again is not easy," they said. "We hope we can get to the point of fully reopening the island's borders in the not-too-distant future, but even when the borders are open again it could be a slow and gradual increase in visitor numbers. Realistically, we are looking at three winters in a row with regards to the hotel and accommodation sector trade.
Pictured: Acting Leads of the Guernsey Hospitality Association Alan and Aine Sillett.
"Let's hope and pray that the virus situation is in a much better place next year and 2021 is a successful one, as it could be that our main market in the UK will look to holiday in destinations that are close to home with a short travel journey. Realistically though, it will likely be 2022 before we have a chance of trading anywhere close to 2019 levels."
The States are planning to introduce a new two-tier grant scheme to support hotels through this winter, while the payroll co-funding scheme remains in place for the time being.
"We are truly thankful for government support via the payroll scheme which has allowed the majority of hospitality venues to stay open and keep their teams in place," they said.
"Tourism is a vital part of the island's economy and way of life. Whilst it may not be the largest contributor in GDP, the indirect benefits are hugely significant."
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