HOTELS are seeing signs of recovery with occupancy figures showing increasingly more visitors in York at weekends.

Industry players have welcomed the return of overnight guests as a boost for York's hospitality scene.

But, the figures are considerably lower than 2019, and hoteliers are also struggling with the loss of corporate guests and tour groups who provide a vital mid-week boost when hotels are quieter.

Martin Bradnam, chairman of Hospitality Association York (HAY), which represents hotels across the city, said: "The good news is the majority of hotels in York are open and are now trading. That is a positive sign."

He said figures showed the actualised occupancy for York, for the month up until Sunday, July 19 was about 30 per cent, with the average room rate in York now £61.

HAY members have reported forward room occupancy forecasts of between 20 and 40 per cent for July; the August forecast is about 30 to 60 per cent, said Martin.

While ‘significantly down from this time last year’, he said weekends were doing better - York hotels reported 58.2 per cent occupancy on Saturday, July 18 and 47.8 per cent the previous Saturday, July 11.

"The green shoots are there. Saturdays are holding their own which is positive. We are seeing the dip mid-week where we would normally have corporate guests, meetings, groups and travel.

“We will build up over time. There are some challenges when we start getting to months like September and October when we move out of the summer holidays."

HAY 's assistant chair Sarah Czarnecki, of Gray's Court Hotel, said the crisis had seen different sectors, such as hospitality and retail, working more closely together to support each other, and she urged local residents to get behind York's independents.

"The message 'love local business' has never been more important," she said.

Larger hotels with function rooms that host weddings, conventions and conferences have lost key business due to social distancing rules, while changes in the corporate world - company travel bans and remote working - are hitting hotels hard.

"We mustn't underestimate the impact of corporate travel," said Martin, general manager of York's DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. "In my experience that can make up 10 per cent of your inventory, particularly mid-week. Group travel tours can make up 15 to 20 per cent in key months. Straight away you have taken away 35 per cent.”

Looking ahead to the December party season, he said hotels with large function rooms could usually cater for between 500 and 2,000-plus covers that month. But, social distancing and tighter budgets may mean these don’t happen. "I think this Christmas will be very different from any Christmas we have known,” he said.

Due to all these factors, Martin said: "I don't think we will start to recover until 2022.”

The upside to the crisis is the potential rise in domestic travel, he said.

"We will see peaks and troughs; busy weekends where people will have a staycation, but mid-week hotels will be competing with each other for limited business."