Wedding venues in Wales could benefit from the reduction and eventual removal of tolls on the Severn Crossings - and encourage greater investment in hotels nearer the crossings.
That is according to an hotels specialist at Colliers International, who believes the reduction in tolls will encourage couples searching for a quality and competitively priced venue in the Bristol area to consider extending their search to the broad range of wedding locations over the bridge.
Peter Brunt, a director in Colliers International’s Hotels Agency team who has been involved in numerous transactions of hospitality properties in the region, said: “Venues in Wales are expected to actively target the Bristol wedding market once the bridge fees go.
“Several hoteliers in Wales have told me they are considering buying another venue closer to the bridges to take advantage of the potential increase in inquiries from Bristol or the M4 Corridor. For those planning a wedding there are some excellent hotels within easy reach of the bridge crossings and some spectacular scenery surrounding them.
“A toll-free motorway link will mean guests could travel to South Wales just as easily as they could get out to country venues in Gloucestershire or Somerset.”
Tolls on the two Severn Bridge crossings have been reduced to £5.60 instead of £6.70 for car drivers, as they are run by the UK government and no longer subject to VAT. It is hoped the tolls will be completely abolished by the end of 2018.
However, Peter Brunt cautioned that buying a promising wedding venue within a reasonable drive of the Severn Bridges might not be as straightforward as it sounds.
He explained: “Wedding venues are nearly always confidential sales so as not to spook couples with weddings already booked at the venue during a sale process. Not that they need to be concerned, as the prospective buyers are interested because of the number of weddings booked and are wedding orientated which is why they are considering the possible purchase!
“In more than 20 years of doing this I don’t recall a sale of a wedding venue where the buyers cancelled already booked wedding functions.
“The probability of a confidential sale requires buyers to keep their ears to the ground on what might be available, or better still, speak to somebody in the know.”
Wedding venues are just one element of a thriving UK hospitality sector. Investment into the UK hotel market reached £5.4bn last year, 51 per cent above the 10 year average of £3.6bn and Colliers International is forecasting an improving level of hotel transactional activity in 2018.
Peter Brunt said hospitality businesses on both sides of the Bridges would continue to benefit from the main drivers for UK hospitality in 2017, namely the weak pound, low interest rates and poorly performing savings accounts, ISAs and pension schemes.
“There is still considerable demand from both domestic and overseas buyers, as hotels continue to be an attractive and popular investment opportunity,” he said.