SEAFRONT hoteliers have implored the council to take action to prevent an “irreversible” decline in the region’s tourism trade with a new and clear strategy.
The travel chaos, demand for facilities and overwhelmed infrastructure seen along the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole seafronts during July’s temperature spikes have been described as ‘indicative of poor planning’ by hoteliers who say loyal customers are beginning to avoid the area.
Theo Iakimov, general manager of the Miramar Hotel, and Rosie Radwell, general manager of the Marsham Court Hotel, told the Echo how the recent scenes in Bournemouth have highlighted gaps in the BCP Council’s summer preparedness plan .
Theo said: “The biggest problem is that this kind of thing has happened so many times without change. We have to look beyond just blaming the people who come – we have to look at who is responsible and responsible.
Bournemouth” alt=”Bournemouth Echo: Theo Iakimov, who runs the Miramar Hotel in Bournemouth” class=”editor-image”/>
“These are issues we have as an industry, as hoteliers and as residents of Bournemouth, as it affects everyone. If it had happened once and never again, we could have said everything was fine, but every summer, when the weather is nice or it’s a holiday, the same problems arise.
“After the Covid, our competitors have already rediscovered the wheel and are moving forward. They have solid plans that are supported by council, industry and most importantly local people. We dont do.”
The couple, whose hotels are located in Eastcliff, believe their focus on tourism diminished after the formation of the BCP Council in 2019 – before which each town’s tourism was dictated by borough departments and led by the directors.
Rosie said: ‘If there was an opportunity to spend more money on essential tourism facilities and infrastructure, I’m sure all the people who live here would vote for it because they’ve had enough too.
“For my part, I don’t know who to contact for tourism problems. I think we need a visible full-time director that we can lead the strategy.
Theo added: “Essentially they put all their effort into getting people here through marketing, but let them do it when they do.”
The couple suggested measures such as a tourist tax to create additional funding for the city’s infrastructure. Rosie also felt that the board should have Air Festival type arrangements in place every May bank holiday, half term and every weekend in July until Air Festival.
Cllr Beverley Dunlop, portfolio holder for Tourism, Culture and Vibrant Places, said: “The BCP Council is experienced in offering the warmest of welcomes to the hundreds of thousands of visitors to our beautiful region while ensuring that we meet the needs of our residents. and businesses are prioritized and protected.
“The unprecedented impact of the pandemic over the past few years has proven difficult for the tourism and hospitality sector, with over 17,000 local jobs in the sector.
“This year we have invested an additional £1.7million to help run the resort’s beaches, town centres, parks and open spaces with funding earmarked for increased waste management, cleanup additional toilets and additional CSAS officers.
“There is also an extensive park and ride program (which so far has been used by 2,000 passengers since its launch nine weeks ago) to help ease congestion and increase communications such as messages to residents and to visitors. We are disseminating information through the media, council social media channels and via email to over 27,000 residents, detailing initiatives to help keep traffic flowing through our Beach Check app and park and ride.
“After each summer season, we reassess the situation with our partners and seek to intensify our efforts to improve our operations and target the areas most in need. After this summer season, we will do the same. Typically warm weather leads to increased visitor numbers and we have systems in place to increase our operations and respond accordingly.
“We have a huge range of accommodation throughout the region, from campsites to hotels to suit all budgets. We are always looking to strike the right balance to attract visitors to the region, which boosts the local economy while informing them to stay safe and encourage good behavior.
“Our tourist offer supports the local economy and while we strive to welcome visitors, the concerns of the inhabitants are close to our hearts. It will not solve all the problems and we will inevitably continue to have challenges. Our commitment is to work incredibly hard to meet these challenges.