The unpredictable weather throughout August did not prevent hoteliers in Bristol from enjoying a strong summer and being cautiously optimistic about the future.
Overall occupancy rates for Bristol in August were 79.7%, compared with 74.4% in August 2022; city centre occupancy in August 2023 was 78.4%, compared with 71.9% in 2022; four-star occupancy rates were 81.7% in August 2023 compared to 74.9% the previous year. Bristol South and Airport, also saw occupancy rates rise from 91.9% in August 2022 to 94.8% in August 2023.
But the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) has warned that the survival of events like the International Balloon Fiesta and Harbour festival is vital to keep Bristol on the map and ensure it remains a destination of choice in future years.
Thousands of people descended on Ashton Court for the four-day event in August, but balloon fiesta organisers say they face tough decisions over its future because of the increasing costs of staging it.
There is no entry fee to attend the balloon fiesta, with income coming from site fees, sponsorship and parking charges, but this summer there was still a funding shortfall.
BHA Chair Raphael Herzog said: “Our members have reported having a strong summer, and August in particular was a good month, despite the weather not being as nice as we may all have hoped.
“There is no doubt that events like the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in August and the Harbour Festival in July, contributed to the strong summer. They help provide a major boost to many businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector.
“I don’t think we can emphasise enough how much Bristol needs events like this, nor how damaging it might be if they were lost.
“These events are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike of all ages and backgrounds and they create a vibrant and exciting atmosphere in the city.
“I’m not sure what the solution is – we are living in challenging times – but I do believe Bristol cannot afford to lose these large events which are so good in so many ways.
“As well as the benefits they bring to businesses like ours, there is also the ‘feel good’ factor, too, which we all need.
“We have had a decent summer, which we are grateful for, and are hoping this momentum will remain as our businesses continue to recover from the impact of Brexit and the pandemic.”