Portsmouth tourism firms report surge in bookings following government's Covid-19 road-map

TRAVEL and tourism firms across the city have reported a surge in bookings following the government’s road map for lifting Covid-19 restrictions.

By Richard Lemmer
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 6:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 6:19 pm

The government’s plan will see pubs, restaurants, and outdoor attractions, as well as overnight accommodation, begin to reopen from April 12 at the earliest.

The announcement has been met with a surge of accommodation and travel bookings for the city’s stricken tourism sector.

Brittany Ferries, which has suspended its services from the port to mainland Europe, reported its strongest day of bookings in more than six months.

Brittany Ferries has had to cancel journeys to mainland Europe due to covid travel restrictions.

Chief executive Christophe Mathieu said: ‘We reported a three-fold increase in reservations yesterday, albeit from quite low levels. It was also our strongest day for bookings since September 2020, while visits to our website rose by nearly 60 per cent.’

The government’s roadmap has set for international holidays to resume on May 17 at the earliest.

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Interest in short-stay apartments within the city has also spiked, according to Charlotte Walker, who manages eight properties through her business Stopover Portsmouth.

HMS Victory & The Mary Rose Museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard have spent much of the last 12 months closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Shaun Roster Photography

Charlotte, who has run the company for more than five years, said: 'We have already started taking bookings. I know other providers have not put down the phone all day. There has absolutely been a surge of interest. It's fantastic. There's going to be a huge surge of people coming to the city.’

She added: 'I think it’s great if it happens. One of the main problems has been the continual change over the last 12 months.

'We have spent a huge amount of time talking to guests, dealing with last-minute cancellations.’

The surge in bookings comes as Portsmouth City Council gears up to launch a major tourism campaign, entitled ‘Put The Wind In Your Sails’, aiming to attract day-trippers and short-break visitors to the city.

For Portsmouth City Councillor Steve Pitt, cabinet member for culture, leisure and economic development, the tourism sector needs to be ‘cautious’ in its optimism for a great season that it sorely needs.

Cllr Pitt said: ‘The devil will be in the detail. We desperately need to have a good season. But obviously there are unknowns which is why the government has said the dates are at the earliest.

‘If the dates slip, the government will have to do another major bailout. It’s already going to have to offer some additional support because the season is supposed to start at Easter.

‘None of this ‘apply-for-this and apply-for-that’ nonsense. The sector needs more financial support and most attractions pay rates, so it should be easy to come up with benchmarks.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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