The urban divide

As the UK hotel sector works towards a tentative July 4 opening date, there is a clear divide opening up between rural and resort hotels, which are expected to hit the ground running thanks to pent up domestic demand, and city centre properties, particularly in London, which rely heavily on overseas guests.

The government’s 14-day quarantine for overseas arrivals to the UK, which comes in to force on Monday, is a serious headache for London properties which would expect a strong showing from Arab, Chinese and American guests among others over the summer months.

A reticence from overseas customers to travel is a big hurdle to overcome, but a government ruling which essentially makes inbound tourism a legal impossibility is going to mean an eerily quiet summer in the likes of Mayfair and Belgravia.

Stephen Collins, an associate director with HVS London and the author of a new report on the potential shape of the recovery, said: “One impact of lockdown is that British tourists will be keen to travel and, unable to go abroad, they are likely to book holidays in the UK once it’s deemed safe to do so. This could prove a silver lining for UK hoteliers, holiday operators and campsites. This will help support domestic demand in the short to medium term, smoothing the recovery curve and allowing hotels to stay in business until the pandemic is brought under control and international demand begins to return.

“We are cautiously optimistic about the UK hotel industry’s ability to recover at a reasonable pace compared with the rest of Europe, and to focus on domestic tourism until international demand returns. But it will not be smooth sailing and there could be casualties, particularly in areas reliant on international, corporate and MICE demand,” he added.

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