Post-Brexit effect could make North Somerset the perfect tourist destination

PUBLISHED: 09:00 17 January 2017

Seafront bars in Weston-super-Mare.

Seafront bars in Weston-super-Mare.

Archant

Low interest rates and the weakness of sterling could have a beneficial impact on North Somerset’s £1.3billion tourism industry, as more holidaymakers are expected to flock to the area as part of the post-Brexit effect.

The sudden drop in the pound’s value in 2016 is attributed to the British public’s decision to leave the European Union last year.

But a report released by international estate agents Colliers International has predicted the faltering currency will help the UK attract more business from overseas tourists, who are estimated to have spent £22.3billion in the UK in 2016.

Visit Somerset, the official tourism website for the county, and a number of Weston-super-Mare hotels have already created marketing strategies to entice tourists to the area.

Visit Somerset told the Mercury more than 36.1 million international travellers came to the UK in 2015 and it revealed Somerset welcomed 25 million domestic and international tourists in 2015.

The crowds were out enjoying the early January sun - but did they go shopping? (Picture: James Walters).The crowds were out enjoying the early January sun - but did they go shopping? (Picture: James Walters).

Visit Somerset chief executive John Turner said: “We have looked at what services we can offer people. We did a huge 12-month job to photograph the whole county, which really makes a difference – images sell both internationally and domestically and we were really pleased with how they came out.”

Mr Turner also said Visit Somerset’s website has had increased online traffic since the Brexit vote, with interest from countries like China, Columbia and Uruguay rising by more than 70 per cent.

To attract more visitors from overseas, Visit Somerset has teamed up with Great Western Railway and a number of airlines, including British Airways and Royal Brunel, to offer a new one-ticket scheme.

The scheme will allow a tourist who arrives at any UK airport, such as London Heathrow, with British Airways to catch a train from the airport to Weston without paying train fare.

Hotels have also taken advantage of the post-Brexit effect to offer cheaper accommodation at shorter notice.

Wayne Entwistle, general manager at The Grand Atlantic Hotel, in Marine Parade, Weston, said the economic picture is a ‘contributing factor’ but not the only thing which is drawing people into the area.

He said: “People watch what has happened abroad and they do not feel safe to travel, therefore they tend to stay in the UK.”

The owner of Beachlands Hotel, in Uphill Road North, Charles Porter, said international tourists made up four per cent of its guests in 2016, and he expects that figure to rise in the next year.

Mr Porter also said it was hard to predict what would happen in the next few months as online hotel comparison websites meant people are able to book last minute, as little as two weeks before staying at the hotel.

He said: “I would say we are cautiously optimistic of what is to come. We have regular and returning customers but where new, first-time customers are concerned, we are optimistic but prepared for things to change in a pinch.”

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