‘If wishes were horses then beggars would ride’, as the cheery saying goes, and it seems that we are now in that phase of the pandemic when we could be surrounded by galloping beggars.
We all wish this was over. It’s really, really dull. I think we can all be in agreement there. Progress is being made all the time and it is now clear that, if you’re generally fit and well - and vaccinated - you don’t need to be afraid of dying if you catch it. Of course we don’t all fit into this category and as a society we must act to protect everyone.
But while we work out how that looks, as far as the sector goes, the pandemic is over. Restrictions have been largely lifted, travel is becoming ever more faff free and things should bounce back to those much-feted 2019 levels, right?
Not so much.
Two years of pandemic have left those businesses which are still with us surviving on fumes, having added debt to keep going, then suffered the erratic nature of lockdowns. In the hotel sector, January and February are the slowest months of the year and come as government supports are being withdrawn. Lenders - who have also been told that the pandemic is over - are going to wonder where their money is. Costs are rising across the board.
The sector still needs support to ease back towards what we hope will be consistent trading. It has shown itself impressive at finding its unified voice, but, having failed to achieve a dedicated MP, and faced with a government which doesn’t want to hear about the pandemic any more, there’s no magic money tree there.
Instead it will have to do what it’s always done: do it itself. This means more revenue from odd places - indoor hotel gardens, anyone? - more takeaways, dark kitchens where they work, adopting technology to get rid of tedious tasks and drive ancillary revenue.
So we’re not quite on horseback yet. But we can all help each other around the obstacles which still lie in our way.