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OLYMPIC LEGACY: Weymouth and Portland hotels missed third of expected guests
12:34pm Wednesday 31st October 2012 in News
HOTELIERS and guesthouse owners failed to attract a third of staying visitors during the Games.
Figures revealed by the Weymouth and Portland visitor survey fall short of those expected by hoteliers with more than half visiting the area on a day trip.
A council report said accommodation bookings through Weymouth Tourist Information Centre were down year on year for the two-week period.
Borough council tourism spokesman Ian Bruce said: “In a usual August the hoteliers would organise their bookings for family holidays but people were not looking for that.”
David Trickett, chairman of the Rural Dorset branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Hoteliers who are members of the FSB were fully booked and they didn’t put their prices up.
“Those that didn’t do well were the ones who decided to inflate their prices because of the Games.”
Dave Price, chairman of Weymouth and Portland Hoteliers and Guesthouse Leaseholders’ Association, said: “Our door-to-door prices stayed the same during the Games.
“After months of scaremongering about travel chaos – what did we expect but low visitor numbers?
“Hopefully, the promotion of the borough will attract new visitors.”
Massimo Menin, group manager of the Hotel Rembrandt, said: “We were fortunate to fill all our rooms with Olympic officials but had no diners.
“Our prices remained the same but due to traffic scares our food and beverage revenue went through the floor.”
However, Craig Willis, of the Wilton Guest House, increased his prices by 30 per cent and said the summer had been a success.
He added: “Bookings were strong over the Olympics and this continued after then. We know for sure some were a direct result of the area’s coverage.
“We’re delighted with the additions and improvements to the town.”
Showcased to the world
TOURISM businesses said the Olympics did not bring the visitor numbers they expected.
But many remain positive for the future now the area has been showcased to the world.
David Hicks, of Sandworld, said: “The weeks leading up to the Olympics were great but the day the Games started was like turning off a tap.
“The week following the Olympics was our busiest ever.
“Traditional tourists stayed away and were replaced by day-trippers.”
Mr Hicks added: “We expect that 2013 will be a record year.”
Craig Dunkerley, general manager of the Weymouth Sea Life Tower and Park, said: “The promotion achieved for the area was fantastic but it was not busy at all.”
Mark Poulton, Weymouth Beach Punch and Judy artist, said: “The Olympics has seen our quietest season.
“I had to reduce three daily shows down to one.
“Regulars stayed away due to accommodation and parking prices and congestion signs put them off.
“Hopefully, next year more people will come.”
Melanie Rush, of West Hill Beach Donkeys on Weymouth Beach, left, said: “I don’t think the Olympics benefited us but we will be able to tell the true impact next summer.”
Chris Bratchell, of White Horse Holiday Park, said: “Between the Olympics, the weather, the economy and the absence of Condor, traders have faced very difficult conditions which may carry forward if we take no action.”
- LOWER than expected visitor numbers and poor takings at the tills are two of the findings revealed by the Weymouth and Portland visitor survey.
A questionnaire, commissioned by the economy group of Weymouth and Portland partnership, was answered by a sample size of 691 people along The Esplanade, near or in the Live Site, the Bayside Festival and the harbour area during the Olympics.
Only 10 per cent were drawn to the area for the first time because of the sailing events, according to the survey.
And nearly half of staying visitors said the Games played no role in their decision to visit.
- A LACK of trade was blamed for the collapse of the Bayside Festival, which left traders thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Festival organiser Mainsail Ltd blamed ‘dire’ visitor numbers for the failure.
It closed with debts of more than £800,000.