After spending over three months without holidaymakers, Cornish hotels are finally anticipating the return of tourists, with the County expecting to have one of the busiest summer seasons on record once travel restrictions ease.
Last week, CEO of Visit Cornwall, Malcolm Bell predicted Cornwall will be “full up” this summer after witnessing mass bookings of Cornish hotels.
This comes after Matt Hancock announced earlier this month on BBC Politics East that “In six months we will be in the middle of, I hope, a happy and free great British summer”.
In Falmouth, local retro, music-inspired B&B, Chelsea House are optimistic about the tourist season and hope to invite guests to their award-winning property as soon as possible.
“Looking through to the summer, from June onwards we expect to be very busy”, said Owner Nigel Retson. “We think that people will hopefully get more confident in booking a holiday in the next moth and I wouldn’t be surprised if [bookings] skyrocket from there”.
Although owners Nigel Retson and Sharon Sillis wish to welcome as many guests as possible with a socially-distanced greeting, they are still offering flexible packages to customers to ensure that visitors are not disadvantaged by the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.
Customers are able to cancel until the day of arrival, provided that their reason for not staying are Covid-related. Nigel hopes that this will “boost confidence amongst customers” and expects that this option will remain a popular way to increase bookings during this lockdown period.
For Chelsea House, Nigel and Sharon have also found that visitors wish to stay longer to admire Cornwall’s natural beauty: with bookings changing from an average of three nights to between seven and fourteen.
“People are starting to realise that Cornwall isn’t just a beach holiday, there’s lots to do and see […] people have had the time to do research now”.
The nine-bedroom-property has been fully equipped for the upcoming summer season with new Smart TVs installed in every room and an Amazon Alexa for guests to ask questions about the local area.
Although cleanliness has “always received 10/10” before the pandemic, Nigel and Sharon describe themselves as “particularly fussy with the rules and regulations”, offering guests a ‘Stay Safe Commitment’ to ensure the risk of Covid-19 is minimised during their stay.
The only certain expectation for 2021, is a lack of international guests. Chelsea House, prior to the pandemic, received around 20 per-cent of their bookings from overseas visitors. Although this has been “more than made up for by the number of staycation bookings” the B&B has received, it appears the lack of international stays is unlikely to increase with just 8 per-cent of flights currently operating from the UK at present.
“On the whole, we are optimistic that we are going to get through this, customers visiting places like [Chelsea House] that offer [something different] are really going to benefit to the extra work that’s gone into it […] B&Bs are a different level this day, there’s no net curtains and paper doilies anymore!”.
Similarly, Independent Cottages co-founder, Steve Jarvis agrees that bookings at unique properties are set to increase as summer grows nearer. “Ever-popular family destinations such as Cornwall have very few prime weeks available, with around 60 per cent of properties already booked up for popular summer weeks.”
Cornwall Direct have also reported a 20 per cent increase in bookings since the announcement of the G7 conference.
Contrary to a surge in bookings, the public have been warned by the UK Government not to book holidays until more information about the pandemic has been revealed.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said, “people shouldn’t be booking holidays right now – not domestically or internationally”, which was later clarified by the Prime Minister himself who pleaded with the public to refrain from making any bookings at present, stating “I am afraid it is just too early for people to be certain about what we’ll be able to do this summer”.
But it appears that this has not discouraged even Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who was recently accused of giving mixed messages to the public on ITV’s Good Morning Britain after announcing that he had a booked at staycation in the Duchy for this coming summer.
While the PM says it's too early to say if summer holidays will be allowed, Health Secretary @MattHancock has reportedly booked his summer holiday.
He is challenged over the mixed messaging that is being given out.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) February 11, 2021
The government are expected to announce a clear statement on booking holidays in the coming weeks, with the “roadmap” exit from England’s third national lockdown set to be announced on the 22nd of February.