Two years on from the historic vote that divided a nation, and Britain’s hospitality industry is still just as divided over Brexit as the rest of the UK.
In order to establish the attitudes towards the impact of Brexit on the hospitality sector, we first polled B&B hosts and hoteliers across the country on their opinions on Brexit in the months leading up to the 2016 referendum. Now, as we enter a pivotal time in the Brexit negotiation process, we decided to go back and conduct further research to see if those views have changed.
Our latest poll found that the gap between ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ has narrowed considerably, with exactly 43% of B&B owners in camp ‘remain’, 42% voting to leave, and 15% now unsure. In 2016, the study showed exactly half of the participants wanting to leave, and just over a third wanting to remain (38%).
The uncertainty within the hospitality industry appears to be grounded in misleading politicians and the constant clashes both between and within the parties. Almost two thirds (64%) of B&B owners lacked confidence in Theresa May to lead us through the Brexit process and over a third (34%) believed the breakaway from Europe will be bad for business in the long run. Even the shaggy-haired, blonde bombshell by the name of Boris Johnson (prior to his resignation) failed to rouse our B&B owners, with a whopping 36% decline in confidence to lead the transition, compared to 2016. The leader of the moment, Gareth Southgate, however, garnered more faith in his leadership abilities with 4% of the vote – even higher than Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, who only managed 3%!
It’s not all doom and gloom though. ‘Staycations’ are on the rise and 37% of our participants believed that bookings from Brits will only increase in the wake of Brexit. There’s even hope for our beloved English Breakfast, as B&B owners expressed concerns over the cost of a croissant, which they worried will increase as we break from the EU next year.
Michele Fitzpatrick, CEO of eviivo, said: “It is clear that Brexit is creating an uncomfortable level of uncertainty, and that people would welcome stronger leadership by Parliament and our politicians. Brexit or not, the sector will just carry on. Independent hosts and B&Bs are the heart of the UK, our national “home” really, and some of the most resilient people I know. If they continue to focus on what they do best, being the most welcoming hosts, I have no doubt that the UK will continue to remain a legendary and attractive destination for visitors the world over.”
All in all, some interesting results that still leave much up to debate about the impact of Brexit on Britain’s B&Bs. Only time will tell how the industry is affected, when Brexit finally happens in March 2019.