Should South West tourism businesses prepare for a late season?

Should South West tourism businesses prepare for a late season?

Stuart Carrington FCA, Partner at Thomas Westcott Chartered Accountants discusses how the region’s tourism businesses are adapting to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

With so much uncertainty around when we might be able to start to enjoy holidays once again, the tourism sector is facing a difficult summer. Some tourism experts are predicting a later holiday season in 2020. Could we see more visitors coming down to the South West over the October half term, for example, or booking a stay for Christmas and New Year?

The challenges facing the tourism sector

The main tourism season usually runs from Easter to October, with the key time being those six weeks of the school summer holiday. Any damage to trading activity over a very narrow period can have a huge impact on profitability – and the ability to earn enough money to tide the business over during the winter months. 

However, all may not be as bad as current restrictions might suggest. There have now been a number of surveys indicating that customers still want to holiday in the South West – just later in the year.

Which businesses could benefit from a late season?

Unfortunately, a late season will not help every business but those able to adapt to appeal to a different customer base could be big winners – especially as later travellers may be older and with greater disposable income. 

Those which may benefit most include:

  • Self-catering accommodation
  • High end accommodation
  • Short breaks (weekends and midweek rather than a week or fortnight)
  • Activity based offerings
  • Anything perceived as Covid secure

The key will be to find some flexibility in your business model. The winners will be those who can:

  • Identify the trends and adapt to fit 
  • Maintain and demonstrate the highest standards of Covid precautions
  • And, most importantly, make sure that they communicate their offering to as many potential customers as possible 

Many of our tourism clients are now focusing on how they could adapt their business to attract customers during the autumn and winter. 

A late season may not be ideal but it does not have to be a disaster. And it is certainly better than no season at all.

Written by Stuart Carrington.

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