After weeks of concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on local tourism, a group of hoteliers are working together to prove to the government that they’ve taken every precaution possible to protect staff and customers when lockdown ends.
Together, the the group have formed a plan, known as the ‘Stay Safe Code of Action’ that they now hope will not only convince the government they can reopen safely, but will become a best-practice code with the minimum requirements for all hotels, B&Bs and guest houses across the UK, to help protect everyone involved, while allowing the tourism industry to continue operations.
Theo Iakimov, manager of Hotel Miramar began work on the plan, with support from Rosie Radwell from neighbouring Marsham Court Hotel, and Simon Scarborough, a hospitality consultant, looking at the experiences of other nations beginning to emerge from lockdown. They quickly brought the BH Area Hospitality Association (BAHA) on board and gained backing from both Business Improvement Districts (BID’s), BCP Council, and local MPs.
Now, they’re pushing the government to consider Dorset the place to start when it comes to lifting lockdown in the tourism sector.
Speaking about the plan, 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% 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 protections 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.”
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.”