The prospect of favourable exchange rates as a result of the EU Referendum and a vote to leave could bring more visitors to the region – providing a much needed tonic for the leisure sector hoteliers and publicans.
That is the view of Hotels Director Peter Brunt of Colliers International, who says tourist areas such as the Cotswolds, Ludlow, Bath, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall could benefit from an increase in overseas visitors now the pound is more affordable for international tourists. Furthermore, UK tourists may choose to stay at home worried about the escalating costs of overseas travel
Mr Brunt reported: “With a weaker pound we should see more tourists, both ‘staycation’ and from abroad. This has to be good news for locations like the South West peninsula and the Cotswolds.
“The value of the British pound down relative to the U.S. dollar, making it likely that more U.S. travellers will also be visiting Britain to take advantage of the disparity.”
Mr Brunt said he believed the hotel industry was unlikely to be significantly affected by the referendum decision for the UK to leave the EU.
“The hospitality industry is in much better shape than it has been since before the downturn, with visits to the UK rising five per cent in the 12 months leading up to April,” he said.
“I feel sure that this industry will remain resilient and the people of the UK, the market and financial institutions will get used to the idea that we have left the EU.
“My gut feeling is that the immediate few days, are going to be the most unsettled for us. After that I believe that normal life will begin to return and my tone with buyers will remain upbeat and positive.
“Nothing should, in my view, cause buyers to make a seismic shift in their decision making about acquiring a hospitality business.”
He added that immediate Brexit experience had been muted and that he was only aware of one potential buyer disengaging.
“More common has been a continuing determination on the part of buyers of businesses that have sales agreed on them to want to press ahead quickly,” he said.
“I also had an instruction to sell on Friday with the vendor saying he just needed to carry on with what was right for him – no matter what the result.
Mr Brunt added that one potential consequence of present uncertainty could be an increase in the number of ‘off-market’ deals, where publicity is kept to a minimum – as in the case of the George Hotel Cheltenham that sold off-market in January.
He said: “Throughout this year we have had a lot going on. However, the opportunities available aren’t always headline news and we are working on a number of significant off-market transactions as canny owners continue to buy and sell properties across the region without recourse to extensive publicity.”
Mr Brunt concluded: “If I have a slight fear it is that banks may get more cautious in their lending until they realise that the market, like the general economy is robust and indeed investor financed groups may have more money seeking a haven from equities. As ever, there will be opportunities presented for the nimble footed buyer and well advised vendor.”
He added that he had also head that in New Zealand would-be travellers have been active in buying sterling in preparation for a cheaper trip to the UK in the future.
“This was heard anecdotally from our New Zealand colleague looking forward to more family and friends visits, and it has been backed up by Travel Money NZ. I would have thought they will be typical of many in the rest of the world,” he said.