SEAFRONT hoteliers have implored the council to take action to prevent an “irreversible” decline in the region’s tourism trade with a new and clear strategy.

The travel chaos, facility demand, and overwhelmed infrastructure seen along the beachfronts of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole during peak temperatures in July have been described as “indicative of poor planning” by hoteliers who say loyal guests are beginning to avoid the area.

Theo Iakimov, general manager at Hotel Miramar, and Rosie Radwell, managing director at Marsham Court Hotel, told the Echo how the recent scenes at Bournemouth highlighted how BCP Council’s summer readiness plan was lacking.

Theo said: “The biggest problem is that this sort of thing has happened so many times without change. We have to look further than just blaming the people that are coming – we have to look at who’s in charge and accountable.

Bournemouth Echo: Theo Iakimov, who runs the Hotel Miramar in BournemouthTheo Iakimov, who runs the Hotel Miramar in Bournemouth

“These are issues we have as an industry, as hoteliers and as residents of Bournemouth because this affects everyone. Had it happened once and never again we could say that’s fine, but every summer when the weather is nice or it’s a bank holiday the same problems creep up.

“After Covid, our competitors have already rediscovered the wheel and are moving forward. They have sound plans which are backed by the council, the industry and most importantly by the local people. We do not.”

The pair, whose hotels are located in Eastcliff, believe focus on tourism declined after the formation of BCP Council in 2019 – prior to which each town’s tourism was dictated by individual borough services and spearheaded by directors.

Rosie said: “If there was the opportunity for more money to be spent on essential facilities and infrastructure for tourism, I’m confident all people who live around here would vote for it, because they’ve had enough too.

Bournemouth Echo: Rubbish left on Bournemouth beach after the recent hot weatherRubbish left on Bournemouth beach after the recent hot weather

“I for one don’t know who to approach for tourism concerns. I think we need a full-time, visible director who we can spearhead strategy.”

Theo added: “Essentially, they spend all their efforts getting people to come here through marketing, but then just leave them to it when they do.”

The pair suggested measures such as a tourism tax to create additional funding for the town’s infrastructure. Rosie also felt the council should instigate Air Festival-like arrangements on all May bank holidays, half terms, and on all weekends from July until the Air Festival.

Cllr Beverley Dunlop, portfolio holder for tourism, culture and vibrant places, said: “BCP Council is experienced in providing the warmest of welcomes to the hundreds of thousands of visitors to our beautiful region while at the same time making sure the needs of our residents and businesses are prioritised and protected.

“The unprecedented impact of the pandemic over the last few years has proved challenging for the tourism and hospitality sector, with more than 17,000 jobs locally within the sector.

Bournemouth Echo: The Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth. Picture: Sally AdamsThe Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth. Picture: Sally Adams

“This year we’ve invested an additional £1.7 million to help manage the resort’s beaches, town centres, parks and open spaces with funding going towards increased litter management, additional cleaning of toilet facilities and extra CSAS officers.

“There’s also an extended park and ride scheme (which so far has been used by 2,000 passengers since it began nine weeks ago) to help reduce congestion and increased communications such as messaging to residents and visitors. We release information through the media, council social media channels and by email to more than 27,000 residents, detailing initiatives to help keep traffic moving through our Beach Check App and park and ride.

“After each summer season, we reassess the situation with our partners and look to step up our efforts to improve our operations and target the areas most in need. After this summer season – we will be doing the same. Typically hot weather results in an increase in visitors and we have systems in place to increase our operations and respond accordingly.

“We have a huge range of accommodation across the area from camp sites to hotels who cater for all budgets. We are always looking to strike the right balance to attract visitors to the area which in turn boosts the local economy whilst at the same time informing them to stay safe and encourage good behaviour.

“Our tourist offer underpins the local economy and while we go the extra mile to welcome visitors, the concerns of residents are vitally important to us. It will not deal with every problem, and we will inevitably continue to have challenges. Our commitment is to work incredibly hard to meet those challenges.”