Yorkshire tourism businesses hit by last-minute cancellations as holidaymakers hedge their bets amidst uncertainty

Tourism businesses in Yorkshire have been hit by a wave of last-minute cancellations as visitors have embarked on “spread betting” their destinations due to ongoing uncertainty for the main summer season.

Tourism businesses around Yorkshire have been hit by cancellations
Tourism businesses around Yorkshire have been hit by cancellations

Hotels, restaurants and bed and breakfasts in the region are now having to revise their cancellations policies after customers have made multiple bookings at different businesses to try and take account of any deviation in the Government’s lockdown policies.

The Yorkshire Post has learnt that there is evidence of tourists taking out bookings for a wide-range of accommodation from five star hotels to bed and breakfasts and campsites before choosing just one location that best fits their needs.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

The trend has cast a huge cloud of uncertainty over the tourism and hospitality sector, which has been particularly badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the repeated lockdowns which have been enforced to contain the spread of the disease.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, James Mason, admitted that the problem of multiple cancellations was significantly undermining the ability of tourism businesses to plan ahead at a time when their finances were already under immense pressure.

He said: “This is something which businesses really do not need to contend with at the moment.

“It has obviously been a tough year, and while it is really good news that the domestic tourism market is as busy as it is, business owners need to have certainty that the bookings will actually lead to people coming to stay.”

Latest figures from the VisitBritain tourism organisation have the domestic tourism market will generate £5.1bn this year.

However, owners and managers of tourism businesses have also been confronted by major staffing shortages which has also led to them having to take on more responsibility leaving them unable to effectively market their enterprises.

The departure from the European Union has led to reduced numbers of seasonal workers coming from the Continent, while many employees who have been left without work in the tourism and hospitality industry during the pandemic have been forced to look for work in other sectors.

Mr Mason said: “Hoteliers and other tourism business owners have been faced with cleaning duties and running the front of house services, due to the issues with a lack of staff.

“That is not to say that they are not willing to muck in with any job that keeps their business going, but it is diverting them away from the really important roles of liaising with clients, marketing the business and planning its future.

“This summer season is looking very busy already, which is good news, but there is a real risk that managers and owners are going to suffer burn-out if they are having to take on so many responsibilities.

“This is an opportunity for the long-term as we will have people coming to Yorkshire who have never been before, and we want them to have the best experience possible so they will come back again in the future.

“Business owners need to make sure that they are offering the best possible experience, but visitors also need to be realistic in their expectations, as we are still living in a situation that is far from normal.”

Britain’s domestic tourism market is witnessing a surge in bookings this summer as uncertainty remains over international travel.

The Government is expected to review its traffic light system later this month after foreign countries have been classed as green, amber or red - with different rules about quarantine and Covid-19 tests.

Travellers do not have to quarantine after visiting green list countries. However, the Government has said Brits should not holiday in red or amber destinations, which means most nations, and visiting them means extra Covid-19 tests and quarantine. Ministers are set to review the traffic light lists on June 28.

Tourism in Yorkshire is seen as one of the key foundations for rebuilding the economy, as the sector is worth £9bn each year and employs 225,000 workers in the region.