With just a handful of countries making it onto the UK Government’s safe “green” list for travel, and Portugal now relegated to the “amber” list, hotels and campsites are preparing for a wave of UK-based visitors in coming weeks.
However, an acute shortage of hospitality workers means many hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions will not be able to operate at full capacity, putting thousands of holidaymakers’ plans in jeopardy.
Those who are able to secure bookings could end up paying over the odds for their trips. Some providers are raising prices to offset the losses of operating at reduced capacity, while others are simply capitalising on the high demand.
Scottish hotels and restaurants have been badly affected by staff shortages, said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the trade body UKHospitality.
The dearth of hospitality workers – from cleaners to chefs – is forcing many businesses to limit how many people they allow through the door, Ms Nicholls said.
“We are seeing some price increases,” she said.
Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “We have destinations and venues in high demand [unable] to open on a seven-day basis. We just don’t have the population level needed to service demand, particularly in rural parts.”
In England, one campsite business, Cre8 Glamping, in Hertfordshire, is charging up to £1,500 for a seven-night stay for two people in August, while four people staying in a three-bedroom self-catering lodge at Chestnut Meadow Camping and Caravan Park in East Sussex can expect to pay more than £2,000 altogether.
Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall had, until recently, predicted visitor numbers there would be up to 15 per cent higher this summer than in 2019.
Now he believes the county will be forced to turn away many would-be tourists because of reduced capacity.
“We were expecting to be 10 to 15 per cent up on 2019 – now I think we’ll probably be nearer 5 per cent up due to staff shortages,” he said.
British holidaymakers might be accustomed to making last-minute bookings, but they stand to be caught out by taking that approach this summer, Mr Bell warned.
Visitors who fail to book accommodation, meals out at in-demand restaurants and tickets to attractions in good time could end up in a “nightmare situation”, getting turned away repeatedly, he added.
Around 20 per cent of people working in hospitality in the UK prior to the Covid-19 pandemic have not returned to their jobs.
Post-Brexit, the industry experienced an exodus of EU nationals, and during the pandemic many workers have sought alternative work.
The warning comes after the boss of Scotland’s largest airline said the UK and Scottish governments’ decision to move Portugal from the green no-quarantine travel list was unjustified and nonsensical.
Easyjet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “This shock decision to add Portugal to the amber list is a huge blow to those who are currently in Portugal and those who have booked to be reunited with loved ones, or take a well-deserved break this summer."