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Hotels ride out foot and mouth crisis

Despite the foot-and-mouth crisis, regional hotels enjoyed higher occupancy rates and charged more for their rooms this March than during the same month last year, according to a new survey.

The research, which was carried out by mid-tier accountancy firm PKF, indicates that the hotel trade may be panicking unnecessarily over the crisis, which was at its height last month.

Preliminary results of the research show the occupancy rate of the 285 regional hotels surveyed rose 3% on last year’s figures, while the average room yield also increased by £2.50.

‘We are intrigued to see these results in the wake of all the publicity which gave indications to the contrary,’ said Melvin Gold, managing director of PKF hotel consultancy services.

The firm had been expecting a downturn, as the hotel business is cyclical and last year was one of its best years.

Gold added: ‘We did expect this to be a less good year even without the foot and mouth crisis. We’re not saying no one suffered. Undoubtedly, there’s an effect in small country hotels and a strong effect on particular areas.’However, London’s hotels appeared to be affected by the crisis, with March occupancy rates falling 5% on last year.

‘The main impact in London has been from the US economy,’ explained Gold. ‘If tourists are staying away then the impact will normally be felt in the capital.’

Although the survey is encouraging, Gold is not giving hotels the all clear. ‘This may mean that there is a delayed impact and the situation is likely to worsen in the months to come,’ he said, adding that hotels have widely reported lower bookings for future months.


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