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HOSPITALITY

Volcano shows need to target domestic market

The Icelandic ash cloud has helped highlight the importance of UK 'staycations'

I

t's an ill wind... particularly when blown from an Icelandic volcano. But there's a lesson to be learned

from it. London hotels – and those in the provinces – gearing themselves for a busy April saw forward bookings compromised and large-scale conferences wiped out. The cost to the UK sector is estimated in the millions. Although hotels gained because some

British people transferred their overseas holiday or event arrangements to Britain, such examples don't mitigate the large scale damage caused. In the short term, this will be quite significant. Certainly, immediate travel plans have been disrupted and people will be reluctant to commit themselves to air travel if there is even a remote chance of not being able to return on schedule. But in the long-term, this may be seen as a temporary, if expensive, blip. There is, however, a lesson to be learned: domestic holiday

BOB COTTON is chief executive of the BHA. Leisure Opportunities is a member benefit of the BHA, for your free copy call 01462 471932

The Michelin-starred chef will transform the property's restaurants

London eateries to be rebranded

Chef Tom Aikens to 're-fresh' Somerset House's offer

By Tom Walker

Two restaurants at London's Somerset House will be rebranded prior to their relaunch this year, following the introduction of Michelin- starred chef Tom Aikens. The River Terrace Café has

and business travel (at £21bn) is bigger than the incoming visitor market (£16bn); indeed, in many regions of the country, the domestic market is vastly more important. Only London, which earns more than £8bn from overseas visitors, depends more on the inbound tourism market. The message, therefore, is to redouble our efforts to

encourage more British people to stay at home for their holiday. This is where the work of the national tourist boards is so vital and where more funding should be directed in order to take advantage of the opportunity which the volcano has presented. The events following the eruption show how vulnerable one

sector of the market is. Certainly, the inbound tourism market is vitally important and the numbers have grown at a faster rate than the domestic market which, in fact, has more or less stood still in the last few years. Indeed, income from domestic travellers on holidays lasting

more than one night in Britain hardly moved between 2006 and 2008 but then increased by five per cent to £22.2bn in 2009. There is potential for further growth and, although UK residents spend more than £40bn on day trips, we have a long way to go to encourage more people to stay overnight. So it's time, surely, to learn the lesson that the volcano has

taught us: to redouble our efforts to encourage the British holiday and business traveller to spend more time in Britain this year – as well as in the future.

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been completely redesigned and will be renamed as Tom's Terrace, while the Admiralty Restaurant will become Tom's Kitchen at Somerset House. Tom's Terrace will offer

informal al fresco-style dining with the menu offering dishes such as a tasting board, grilled

paillard of chicken and smoked Loch Duart salmon. Tom's Kitchen at Somerset

House will be a more formal concept and will be the second Tom's Kitchen venue in London. The first one, on Cale Street in Chelsea, opened in April 2003 and secured its first Michelin star the following year. Jerome Ibanez, Somerset

House's general manager, said:

"We've been looking to re-fresh our restaurants at Somerset House for some time. "With Tom we have found a

partner who can deliver this re-fresh with style."

IHG announces UK expansion plans

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced its plans to open 36 new properties across the UK during the next three-to-four years. The hospitality operator

– owner of the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and InterConti- nental Hotels and Resorts brands – said that it would create 3,500 jobs and help boost the economy. IHG chief executive Andy Cosslett said: "Hotels provide

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a quick and flexible way to get people back into work and provide a much-needed stimulus to the economy. "We're playing our part

with 3,500 opportunities in the next three years, but a commitment from the government to support tourism would mean we could create even more jobs." IHG currently operates

more than 4,400 hotels in 100 countries worldwide.

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