TRAVEL bans by companies and the cancellation of big events is hitting hoteliers in York.

Corporate guests bring vital mid-week business to the hospitality sector which is now feeling the impact of last-minute cancellations as companies are increasingly advising staff not to travel.

Martin Bradnam, chairman of Hospitality Association York (HAY), said coronavirus was high on the agenda when the group met this week.

“A lot of the properties that focus on conferences are seeing cancellation by people affected by the travel bans with companies saying ‘is the meeting necessary?’

“That affects us because in our industry, mid-week we welcome a lot of corporate guests.”

Martin said he felt people were also reconsidering their leisure plans, as a result, as many would not want to risk having to be off work for two weeks.

“It is impacting on consumer confidence to travel.”

The Liberal Democrats were due to start their spring conference in York today (Friday) but it was cancelled in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Martin said: “It is a sensible approach and makes sense in the current environment and political parties need to set an example.”

However, he said, it was a blow to city hotels, especially those close to the York Barbican where it was due to be held, which would otherwise have been busy with delegates.

“They will have gone from being busy, and having turned away other business, and now that conference has dropped out.

“We always say our product is perishable - once a room is not being used, it is forever vacant if that date is past.”

The Chancellor’s abolishment of business rates with a rateable value of below £51,000 in his budget on Wednesday was good news for small operators, added Martin, who is general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton, St Maurices Road.

But it did not benefit many of the large hotels, he said.

“It is perhaps for the 20 to 30-bed guesthouses that benefit.

“Our rateable value is four or five times that amount for a big hotel and that would be quite similar across the city.

“It is really positive for the small independents and would impact small air bnb operators - if they declare their business correctly; some don’t.”