Boost for hospitality sector after BID gets first day’s visitor numbers right

Westside BID is hoping for a significant increase in visitors to Broad Street’s pubs, bars and restaurants after correctly predicting the number who turned up on ‘Hospitality Day’.

That was the name given to Saturday 4 July when the hospitality industry finally reopened to the public after nearly four months of lockdown due to coronavirus.

Mike Olley, general manager of the BID, estimated that about 8,000 revellers would descend on Broad Street and Brindleyplace over a 12-hour period last Saturday to mark the reopening of the “golden mile”.

He proved to be almost spot on, with the actual footfall in Westside on ‘Hospitality Day’ totalling 8,227 people on the street.

But to put it into context, that figure compared to a footfall of 34,647 people on the corresponding day of 4 July last year.

Mr Olley is now looking forward to a rise in visitor numbers, particularly after the Chancellor this week announced a number of giveaways to help boost the vital hospitality sector.

These initiatives include a huge cut in VAT on accommodation, restaurant meals and attractions from 20% to just 5% from 15 July through to 12 January next year.

Another benefit announced by Rishi Sunak was 50%-off meal vouchers worth up to £10 per person between Monday and Wednesday throughout August as part of a new “Eating Out to Help Out” scheme.

In addition, the Government is offering a ‘jobs retention bonus’ of £1,000 per employee to encourage businesses who re-employ their furloughed workers.

Mr Olley said his accurate prediction for ‘Hospitality Day’ was based on anticipation from comments on establishments’ social media, as well as nightclubs remaining closed and people keeping to their local areas.

He said: “Anticipation was buzzing with people having been starved of what they regard as a good night out for several months.

“The reopening of pubs, bars and restaurants was extremely welcome, and although numbers were well down on what we would normally expect, we’ve been really pleased at how well it has gone over the first few days.

“We are now hopeful that the number of people visiting the Broad Street area will continue to grow beyond Hospitality Day, especially now that the Chancellor has announced a major boost for the sector with his welcome giveaways.

“We hope that businesses will respond by re-employing staff who have been on furlough over the past few months.”

By Tony Collins.

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