HOTELS lost thousands of pounds due to people cancelling bookings due to the negative publicity around the major incident declaration last month, they have said.

BH Area Hotel Association chairman Tim Seward said businesses across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole had been affected with some regular visitors “frightened off”.

He has called on BCP Council to put together a longer “calendar of events” in a bid to attract more people down to the area.

Speaking at last week’s meeting of the council’s scrutiny board, Mr Seward said there had been a pick-up in bookings after the announcement that hotels could reopen was made.

But he warned the media attention brought about by the two busy days in late June and the subsequent major incident declaration had led to cancellations “across the summer season”.

“With the major incident being called and going viral, many hotels received a large number of phone calls and cancellations causing thousands of pounds in losses,” he told councillors.

“This has had a major, major impact on a large number of businesses in terms of future bookings.

“The major incident still being on standby is worrying for us as a hotel association as we don’t want to have further cancellations.”

He said hotels had generally coped well during the months of lockdown measures brought in to reduce the spread of the coronavirus but said three had closed and several had made redundancies.

Some, he added, were still looking at whether they needed to lay-off staff and some were considering closing over the winter months due to concerns about a lack of visitors to the area.

He urged the council to step up support for the industry through both a short-term and long-term “calendar of events”, including a three-year commitment to the air festival.

This year’s Bournemouth Air Festival has been cancelled but a date has been confirmed for next year’s event in a bid to provide certainty to hospitality businesses.

Mr Seward added that there had been an increase in hotel bookings in recent weeks and said occupancy rates were now approaching normal levels after a slow restart.