Has Bognor Regis benefitted from the ‘staycation’ craze?
Now that the season is winding down, have Bognor businesses benefitted from the predicted surge in domestic tourism?
With the Covid-19 pandemic making foreign travel more difficult than ever, many Britons have turned to ‘staycations’ to make ends meet, heading to seaside towns like Bognor Regis when they might otherwise go abroad.
Despite the challenges of a tough year, many Bognor-based businesses feel they have had a reasonably strong showing this year, with local B and Bs attracting guests from all over the country.
“We were absolutely chocka-block,” said Trevor Pulleyblank, owner of Trevali Guest House, a Bed and Breakfast in Belmont Street, Bognor Regis. “After a hard two years, it was good to get back to some form of normality.”
Mr Pulleyblank feels Bognor offers domestic tourists a break from the bright lights of bigger cities, presenting them with a chance to slow down and relax by the sea. It’s a quality he feels has contributed to the town’s success over the last few months.
“People still like come to Bognor because it’s quiet and flat and it has roots in the Victorian times. People like that.”
Veronica Smith, who owns the Aldwick Bed and Breakfast in Princess Avenue, echoed those sentiments, adding that the staycation craze gave Bognor a chance to show itself off to entirely new visitors.
“We had a lot of people who came down who had never been to Bognor before, and who had booked to go abroad, or on cruises and they just wanted to get away and they decided on Bognor.
“I think people are finding out that, actually, there’s some lovely places in the UK to visit. Because, you know, we’re not too far from the south downs, we’re not too far from these beautiful villages, and Brighton’s just down the road.”
Butlin’s has also reported a strong showing this season, with a calendar of events attracting holidaymakers from up and down the country: “It’s been massive for us,” said resort director Jeremy Pardey. “People wanted to engage with a holiday in our country. I’ve done it myself, I went to a part of Britain I’ve never been to before and had a fantastic time and I did something completley different, and I think lots of the population are doing exactly that, which can only be good for British business.”
Although that trade has been great for Butlins, Mr Pardey feels it will be inevitably affect local businesses, giving them a wider base of potential customers, not least, because, many of those customers could be coming back: “I think we’ve surprised the customer, they’ve come and they’ve had a great time, they’ve enjoyed our entertainment, they’ve enjoyed our food, they’ve enjoyed the environment, but I also think they’ve enjoyed coming to Bognor Regis.
“Hundreds of people walk outside that main gate everyday. Before I got here, we used to try to stop them. But I think we should let people do what they want to do, and there are lots of businesses out there that we partner with thatI encourage people visit because they’re great businesses. So being a part of the community here is really important. It’s about coming to Bognor Regis, not just coming to Butlins.”