Hoteliers in Bristol are preparing to recruit hundreds of people to help kick-start their businesses when coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
They are anticipating a very busy summer as the hospitality sector starts to re-open and early indications suggest there will be a surge in demand for ‘staycation’ breaks as uncertainty remains about the safety of travelling abroad.
The Government’s ‘roadmap to recovery’ has given 17 May as the first date by which hotels are able to fully open and if they are going to welcome guests back in, the hotels need to be adequately staffed.
The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) represents some 40 hotels in and around the city, between them offering around 4,000 rooms.
BHA Chair Raphael Herzog said: “After one of the most difficult years any of us can remember we are now in a position to begin to plan with some certainty for when we can re-open, hopefully without having to go back into lockdown again. Around the city, hotels will be looking to recruit at least 500 people, and are planning to recruit even more over the summer, as efforts are made to promote Bristol as a destination and attract tourists back to the city.”
He said BHA member were reporting an increase in enquiries about conferences from September and have even started taking enquiries about Christmas parties.
He added: “With many companies still forced to work from home, or downsizing their offices, it is clear that the demand for small meetings will be strong, as people will still have to meet up, and many have had enough of Teams and Zoom, and would prefer face-to-face meetings. If all restrictions are lifted on 21 June, as provisionally laid out in the Government’s roadmap, it is expected that many family gatherings will return to hotels, such as wedding anniversaries, milestone birthdays, christenings and other celebrations. Many hotels also have a backlog of weddings that were postponed because of the pandemic, and some are still hoping to host around 100 weddings between June and December. All these positive steps forward are why are now getting ready to recruit.”
He said many BHA members will be using the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, which provides funding to employers to create job placements for people aged between 16 and 24 who are on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment.
Mr Herzog said: “Even if we do all re-open on 17 May we won’t instantly be able to operate at the same levels of income we were at pre-lockdown, so any support we can get will be extremely helpful in order to secure our long-term recovery. The Kickstart Scheme is going to be extremely valuable, a huge help not only to us but to those young people. It provides funding for 25 hours of work per week for a total of six months, but who knows what may happen after that. If our businesses recover as we hope they will, and the young people find that they enjoy their experience in the hospitality industry, then perhaps this is not just a short-term support scheme to help kick-start our recovery but could be the beginning of a long and enjoyable career for people in our wonderful sector. The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit through the pandemic; we’ve always been among the first businesses to be forced to close and among the last to be able to re-open through each lockdown. But there is finally some cause for optimism now and that is going to be positive news for our businesses, positive news for the city as a whole, and very welcome news for the hundreds of people we are going to be looking to recruit over the coming weeks. The measures announced in the budget, such as the extended business rates holiday and reduced rates of VAT, will all contribute towards getting our businesses back up and running fully. Most of all, we can’t wait to do what we do best, and that is to give a warm welcome to our guests and provide them with a positive memorable experience.”