A year ago we were looking down the barrel of 2021 hoping that the Covid-19 vaccine would be the panacea to our woes and that ‘normality’ would return swiftly topped up with a large dose of recovery. We had yet to see the approaching wave of ill-health that would lock down the UK for the first twelve weeks of 2021 but we knew that whatever came our way, this wasn’t our first covid rodeo; we had to adapt and amend. So, we just went to work helping our owners and guests and holding a lot of hands.
There was certainly a recovery and a boost to tourism in Kent and the South East as the spring of 2021 brought an upturn in domestic tourism and by the summer, spare beds were in short supply. The full signs went up at campsites, glamping sites, B&B’s, hotels… everything was booked. If it wasn’t, it was the victim of staff being ‘pinged’. Restaurant tables disappeared as fast as you could say ‘track and trace’ but the collective effort to pull together to support small businesses across Kent and the whole of the UK was fantastic to witness. Folkestone’s harbour arm in high summer was as glamourous as any Mediterranean beach we’d seen (just slightly less sunny…).
And the autumn was positive too. For us as Bloom Stays, we’ve been cheered by the number of new owners coming to us with brilliant houses they want to share with guests and an underlying sense of confidence in the British ‘Staycation’ as a trend set to stay. On the back of the vaccine programme the tourism industry found some confidence that they could overcome any future covid-shaped hurdles.
However, now, in this winter solstice, this ‘long covid’ is again threatening consumer confidence. We’re finding ourselves rearranging bookings whilst our owners are locating misplaced PCR tests sent to the wrong addresses or juggling new family arrangements for their houses on top of day to day routine admin.
Rowena has been on BBC Radio Kent this week talking about how this self-imposed lockdown, this collective nervousness has once again upset the bookings and prompted some cancellations. Not everyone, but certainly some people are losing out on long planned holidays and our partners, pubs, shops, bars, restaurants and attractions are facing a bleaker economic outcome than they would have time to plan for. Our collective Christmas cheer has been harder to muster this week it has to be said.
However, we’re solidly in the optimistic camp here and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the booster campaign does exactly that… boosts our immunity both to the virus and to economic lockdown in the nick of time… we’re all enough of that, thanks very much.
We want to wish all our partners, friends, owners and guests a hopeful and happy holiday, a merry Christmas and joy in the new year ahead. There is so much more to come.