Bognor businesses hoping for boost from staycation trade this summer

Restrictions on foreign travel are here to stay until at least May 17, so many British holidaymakers are staying closer to home this year, choosing caravans and campsites over foreign holidays. With UK based tourism agencies seeing a sudden surge in demand, some Bognor businesses have high hopes for the season to come.

The Carlton Hotel exterior
The Carlton Hotel exterior

“I think that, after lockdown, people will want to get out,” said Trevor Pulleyblank, owner of the Trevali Guest House, Belmont Street.

“Everyone needs a holiday or a weekend by the sea.”

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Mr Pulleyblank said he’s already fully booked for The Goodwood Festival of Speed and expects to be ‘packed’ by July.

He said: “We haven’t had anything for over a year, so we’re desperate for it.”

Veronica Smith, who runs The Aldwick Bed and Breakfast at Princess Avenue, echoed mr Pulleyblank’s hopes for a more profitable summer season.

“We can see people starting to book.” She said “It’s not rushing in yet, but it is trickling in. The hope is that it will pick up quite rapidly. It’s still early days yet, but we’re hoping for good things this Summer, definitely.”
Whether or not those good things come, businesses still face tough challenges and difficult decisions. Ms Smith wonders whether she should accept non-vaccinated guests. She said: “We have to try to balance it out. If we open it up to everybody, we may get customers who are vaccinated and others who aren’t and that could put people at risk.”

Denise Bennett, owner of The Carlton Hotel, on the seafront, said: “There’s no certainty in anything.

“A lot of people don’t know what’s actually going on.”

Once the kids go back to school and start getting more confident, then maybe they’ll start making bookings, but at the moment, I just don’t know.”

For Butlins in Bognor bookings are looking good ahead of its proposed reopening date on May 17.

Jeremy Pardey, resort direct at Butlin’s Bognor Regis said: “We’re not short of bookings and it’s about how we manage our capacity to deliver a COVID safe environment and a great holiday at the same time. We’ve managed to do that well before, and the guests told us they felt safe, so we feel very confident that we can do that again.”