Hotels director Simon Wells said many pub and hotels businesses had been lucky enough to escape the devastation witnessed around the Somerset Levels, Dawlish, Tewkesbury and Gloucester – but were still seeing reduced footfall as people stayed away – not just from their village pub but from the region as a whole.
He said: “Listening to a number of our clients over the last few weeks they have all told me that the high levels of media coverage about the flooding on the Somerset Levels is affecting their trade, even if they operate in entirely different areas.
“Without seeking to diminish the impact or effect of the flooding the fact is it is still confined to a relatively small area of the South West. “There is certainly concern among publicans and hoteliers that the non-stop coverage we are seeing is having an effect well beyond the flood impacted areas.
“I went down to Cornwall for a two day trip last week via North Somerset and Devon and did not experience any problems at all. In fact, Mevagissey was absolutely stunning, the harbour was full of colourful fishing boats and it was a real delight.”
“We are hearing lots of stories of people phoning in advance to see whether they can still get to the hotel that they have booked and the reply in most circumstances is a resounding yes.”
He said visitor numbers had even begun to fall away in Bath – thirty miles from the Somerset Levels.
“While the Somerset Levels are clearly suffering enormous hardship it is a small part of the region as a whole and should not put people off taking a break in the wider region.”
Colleague Peter Brunt said many of his clients had demonstrated typical resilience by carrying on regardless – even when their properties were situated in known flood risk areas or - in some cases – up to the back steps in water.
He said: “Thankfully the Plough at Kelmscott has escaped flooding this year despite being close to the Thames. It was badly flooded in 2007 so perhaps some of the Environmental Agency’s flood prevention measures have worked after all.
“The Mason Arms in South Leigh is in a flood risk area but that did not deter buyers when it was on the marklet at the close of last year.
“I also saw a publican last week who happily told me that he floods every year, he knew it did before he bought it but the place is set up to be resilient.
“He told me his customers were all in the bar in wellies on Boxing Day and it made for a great atmosphere – so long as you have flagstone floors and you can just lift the furniture on bricks and push a mop around once the flooding has receded.”
He went on: “It is important we do not lose sight of the fact our present pub and hotel network has survived the worst downturn since the war and is just beginning to enjoy the first fruits of the recovery. From what we have seen our resilient and resourceful owners will still be here when the weather has finally, thankfully, returned to some kind of normality.
“We have first-hand experience at Colliers International of the impact of flooding on pubs and are ready and able to advise owners on the business insurance issues which many will be facing once the floods have receded.”