Weymouth’s vital tourism industry has enjoyed great success over the past few years. 2018 was a record-breaker with a combination of the area’s stunning ntural beauty and the hottest summer since 1969 bringing over £220 million pounds into the local economy according to Visit Dorset. Early indications are that 2019 will prove to be another bumper year. New figures from Visit Britain that show 2019 saw a rise in in-bound tourist numbers to a record 38.9 million – up by 3% – who spent up a massive to £24.5 billion and England as a whole is now the 3rd most popular tourist destination in the world. This all chimes in with our experience as we’ve seen a sharp rise in the number of requests for hotel, restaurant and pub insurance quotes this year.
Yes, business has been good for the hospitality industry in Weymouth over the last few years; but what does 2020 hold? In this latest blog from Coversure Weymouth – Weymouth’s leading independent insurance brokers – our Managing Director, John Palmer, looks at what lays ahead for this jewel of the Jurassic Coast and finds plenty of room for optimism.
Weymouth: A Top 10 UK Holiday Destination
According a new report this summer, Weymouth is the 8th most popular holiday destination in the UK. The report from the leading holiday cottage website Holidaycottages.co.uk, ranked Weymouth 8th in the UK’s top 30 holiday hot spots. This made it more popular than many well-established big-name traditional destinations such as Blackpool, Scarborough and Great Yarmouth. While this is great news in itself, it does make you wonder if there aren’t even greater things on the way? There’s a lot of money being pumped into the town – such as the £6.8m Weymouth Quay Regeneration and the wider Peninsula Development as Weymouth gears itself up to promote itself as a modern tourist destination and provides the facilities that will attract even more visitors. Gift us another decent summer in 2020 and I can see us rising up the charts even further.
The Rise (And Rise) of AirBnB in Weymouth
Conceived in 2008 as a way to help a San Franciscan couple pay their rent by offering out an air bed in their apartment to a $38bn global phenomenon, AirBnB has certainly come a long way. Originally a big city idea, its appeal has now spread to smaller towns and Weymouth is no exception. At the time of writing there are over 300 AirBnB locations in Weymouth and that number is growing fast. Its success reflects the number of in-bound visitors to the town, which is expected to reach close to 500,000 this year.
As a brand AirBnB faces some challenges. Authorities in cities like Paris, who have bowed to pressure from local hoteliers, have curbed the number of listings they will allow. Globally, however, the company reported growth of over 21% in August and it has ambitious plans for countries like India. Here, as summers seem destined to get warmer thanks to climate change, and as projects such as the Peninsula Development take shape, I believe we’ll see more people opening up their properties to the public as demand continues to rise.
We’ve seen a growing number of customers asking us for AirBnB insurance for their properties over the past year. Our sister office, Coversure Poole, has experienced a similar rise which is why I wrote a guide to AirBnB insurance as there’s more to it than meets the eye…
This is a definite growth area for Weymouth in 2020 – one that I can see it facilitating far more of the all-important short-stay and staycation visitors to our lovely town.
National Park Status For Dorset?
There’s a heated debate going on as to whether Dorset should become a part of the National Park system. This would effectively see an expansion of the 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and 10 National Parks that are already in operation. It would encompass both East Devon’s and Dorset’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which together cover the World Heritage Jurassic Coast.
Opponents of the idea point to the loss of planning control and there’s some historical concerns from the Ministry of Defence regarding loss or restrictions to their heathland training grounds. Proponents of the scheme argue that it would not only help protect the important and beautiful landscape., but attract up to £10m per year in extra tourist revenue. To my mind the fact that this part of Dorset is even being considered for National Park status is a great advert for the county and should, in itself, increase tourist visitors. Park or no Park, this sounds like a win-win to me.
Cruising Boom Continues In Portland
Business is booming at Portland Harbour and this is in large part due to the fact that it is now taking in much larger vessels like the Mediterranea which docked for the first time in 2019 and brought over 2,300 holidaymakers to our town. Cruising generally is becoming much more popular with 2019 seeing a further 6% rise in the number of passengers, bringing the total to 30m globally according to recently release figures from Cruising.org. Portland Port’s cruise business saw 44 ships berth this year which brought in over 62,000 passengers. If, as expected, they rise again in 2020 then we can expect an extra 4,000 visitors in need of our hospitality.
The Continued Growth Of The Staycation
More and more Britons are choosing to spend their holidays exploring their home island and are flocking to the stunning beaches places like Dorset boasts and its pretty towns like ours.
There are a number of reasons for the rise in these ‘staycation’ holidays. The uncertainty of Brexit and the fluctuating pound are acknowledged as two key reasons. The rise of apps like TripAdvisor and Instagram have also become big indfluencers and have effectively showcased the best that the UK has to offer and the run of wonderul summmers we’ve enjoyed has made people question the need to go abroad. Discount voucher site Wowcher reported another big increase in the number of customers buying UK city breaks in 2019 and have indicated that sales for 2020 are already looking extremely good.
Weymouth 2020: Will the Tourism Boom Continue?
I think the only answer I can give to that question is, ‘Yes!’. As the town’s reputation grows and as more and more entrepreneurial residents throw open their doors to AirBnB, as planned investments and improvements come on stream and things like the Carnival return, so visiting us will be easier and even more worthwhile. The continuing popularity of staycationing and the undoubted continuing turmoil over Brexit (whatever happens on the 12th December) plus weaker Sterling should all make Weymouth an attractive destination for travellers in 2020. If we can just have another summer like 2018 then records will tumble. So, pass the factor 30 and let’s use the closed season to prepare for a sizzling season in 2020.
Like Some Help Insuring Your Weymouth Business?
If you’d like to know more about how Coversure Weymouth can help you protect your business, or if you have a renewal due for your shop restaurant, pub or café insurance policy then please get in touch. You can contact us on (01305) 457202 or email the Coversure Weymouth team here.