What could Brexit means for the Hospitality sector in Dundee and Angus?


Following the result of the BREXIT vote, I have retyped my views at least a dozen times! Ranging from the gloom initially thought that leaving the EU would bring to our industry – to the rise in the staycation business -to the drop again from large corporations threatening to leave the UK -to the rise once again of local businesses supporting our hotels!?!
However as reported in the recent SLTN (Scottish Licence Trade News), more than half of Scottish Tourism businesses are confident about the next 12 months following the Brexit following a poll commissioned by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA). It reported that 27% of their respondents were highly confident about the coming year; 30% somewhat confident; 18% somewhat un-confident and only 3% highly un-confident. A recent statement on BBC news from the Managing Director of the Apex Hotel group which obviously has representation in Dundee, stated that their company had seen a 9% rise in leisure trade following the Brexit vote. Marc Crothall, CEO of STA stated that ‘One very clear message came back to us (referring to the survey) – Scotland’s Tourism industry has an inspiring level of confidence’
Occupancies still appear to be strong in our area despite the negative dip we appeared to take immediately following the Oil effect on Aberdeen late in 2014. However will this continue for Dundee & Angus? Well, we have a lot to look forward to in the coming years such as major events like the Ladies British Open in St Andrews 2017, the Men’s British Open returning to Carnoustie in 2018, the Seniors Open at St Andrews in 2018 and then of course the launch and opening of the V&A Museum in 2018 and all that brings! But these are only ‘positive spikes’ in our calendar years.
The advantages of the result are the fall in the value of the pound making it more affordable than ever for overseas visitors and also encouraging UK residents to remain in the country to holiday. There maybe also direct benefits from the removal of the EU VAT regulations. Yet whilst the feeling is generally very positive, we are operating in a period of significant uncertainty.
Concerns are around the issue of free movement and recruitment issues for our industry are evident and the challenge of a second independence referendum; the effect that this process let alone result may have must also be considered. Closer to home in Dundee and Angus as we enter a period of increased hotel bedroom demand this comes with an increase of hotel supply.
The council are stating that an extra 500 bedrooms are required in Dundee City alone in addition to the already underdevelopment Sleeperz hotel, Hampton by Hilton and other extensions to existing hotels, what will this do to the existing bedroom inventory? So it’s clear to say that whilst this topic is now relatively old news, the overall impact and future impact is yet to be fully understood for our area. One thing it does do for me is further my belief that working collaboratively with the local and national government and tourist boards, will allow DAVAA and its members the best possible chance of ensuring that we remain dynamic and agile in our offering to ensure we protect ourselves from any negative impact or to best reap the awards that this landmark referendum has offered us.