Bournemouth hotels making plans to re-open

Theo Iakimov, who runs Bournemouth's Hotel Miramar

A leading holiday resort has published a ‘Covid-19 Action Plan’ so it can re-open its hotels as soon as possible.

Bournemouth and the neighbouring towns of Poole and Christchurch want to be ready when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Hoteliers also want the government to consider any trials of lockdown lifting in the tourism sector to be carried out in the Dorset conurbation.

Using experience from other nations, which are beginning to open up, hoteliers and other experts have compiled a stay safe code of action that will restore confidence for visitors.

The UK’s tourism industry has been non-existent since the crisis began and now the holiday season is here it is suffering further.

Hotel manager Theo Iakimov, who runs Bournemouth’s Hotel Miramar, led the move to create the plan, with the support of Rosie Radwell from neighbouring Marsham Court Hotel, and hospitality consultant Simon Scarborough.

The BH Area Hospitality Association (BAHA) quickly adopted the project along with the backing of the town’s two Business Improvement Districts (BIDS), BCP Council and local MPs.

The ‘Stay Safe Code of Action’ has also drawn interest from VisitBritain, the official arm of the British Tourist Authority.

Theo said: “Our local economy is so dependent on tourism we wanted to create a plan that will allow us to re-open the hotels, guest houses and B&Bs as soon as possible.

“The objective is to reduce risk as much as we can to reassure people that we can safely open again, albeit on a reduced basis.

“In line with government rulings we want to clearly demonstrate that we have implemented procedures that put the safety and wellbeing of our guests, our staff and local residents at the forefront.

“The code of action includes risk-reduction protocols and best practice learned from other nations, as well as input from health professionals.

“Practical things include opening a limited number of car parking spaces, and public areas, and operating to just 50 per cent of bedroom capacity so social-distancing can be practised.

“Obviously room cleaning must be extremely thorough, and rooms might be left empty for days after they have been occupied.

“Signage about rules and how to correctly use hand sanitiser will have to be prominent and new training for staff should be introduced.

“Shift patterns should be organised so people are less likely to mix with each other and staff and guests will be provided with all necessary protection.

“Temperature tests for staff and guests can be introduced and payment can be done remotely.

“Each hotel is different, but we want them all to sign up to the code which outlines minimum protocols and procedures.

“We hope to prove to the government and to the holidaying public that we are ready to slowly re-open and have taken all necessary precautions.

“While we understand that the health of the nation comes first, a time will come when rules will be relaxed, and we want visitors to know that we have been proactive in making the resort safe.

“Also, if the government wants to run a trial of re-opening hotels to test the waters, hoteliers in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole areas are fully prepared and ready to welcome guests back.

Tim Seward chairman of the BH Area Hospitality Association said: “The hospitality sector is critical to the south west region, and this unified approach involving so many key stakeholders shows our commitment to helping local businesses and the regional economy get back on track.”

It is hoped that due to the severe impact on international travel that the government will put their weight behind a campaign to promote the British tourist industry.

David Bailey of the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Destination Management Board said: “If sensible measures can be put in place to ensure the safest form of hotel visits, then the staycation in holiday regions such as Dorset could be the saviour of the industry, or at least give a much welcome boost towards getting the tourism sector back on its feet.”