The pandemic’s effect on Bournemouth’s tourism industry worth £1bn “couldn’t have been worse” with thousands of jobs threatened.
Sitting on a popular Dorset coastline, the town relies heavily on tourism for the local economy, with one-eighth of all jobs falling under this industry.
Bournemouth is a popular seaside town that attracts millions of visitors every year.
When COVID-19 caused the world to shut down last March, Bournemouth’s tourism industry greatly suffered because of this.
It’s just been so disruptive for us.”
“I would say it couldn’t have been worse for us really,” said Councillor Mohan Iyengar, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure and Culture for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
“Essentially, tourism cannot be done online because it’s an industry that requires you to travel which we obviously can’t do right now. The events we usually do haven’t really been able to move online and when they do – it’s just not the same.
“The council have had to deploy other services to volunteer schemes to help people get their prescriptions and things like that. It’s just been so disruptive for us.”
Councillor Iyengar went on to explain that the nightlife economy also makes up a vast income to the tourism sector. When the 10pm curfew was introduced in October last year, this caused many problems for the nightlife economy.
“Most places open at 10pm and that’s their peak business time. For those who aren’t open throughout the day it forced them to have to close again gaining no business,” he added.
“All it did was encourage people to gather more and drink more in the final hour before 10pm.
“All these small businesses in place did not receive enough support at the beginning of the pandemic through the government funding schemes and were left behind.”
How have Bournemouth’s tourism businesses coped?
Accommodation in Bournemouth has been hit particularly hard during the pandemic – specifically hotels that rely on tourism as their income.
The Marsham Court Hotel has been greatly affected by the pandemic and usually relies heavily on tourism. The hotel, situated on Russell Cotes Road, is a popular hotel for leisure and business with a lot of companies serving as customers due to its proximity to the Bournemouth International Centre.
“The pandemic has affected us massively – we’ve only been open for 12 weeks since last March and are shut now” said James Dixon-Box, Operation Director at the Marsham Court Hotel.
“Even though we’ve been shut for most the year, we still have to pay a large amount of money in terms of insurance, maintenance, although a lot of our staff are furloughed, we still have to pay towards National Insurance contributions and pensions.
“For every month that we’re shut, there are still tens and thousands of pounds still being paid out with no money coming in whatsoever.”
To help the tourism industry, the government has provided loans to the tourism, hospitality and leisure. However, James feels like this isn’t enough.
“We’ve received very little support. We have received government loans but the levels of grants received are very small. We’ve been getting a few thousand pounds here and there because of forced closure but nowhere near the investment we need to counteract the thousands of pounds we’re losing from the business.
“We’re going to be seeing the effects of the pandemic for a long time.”
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