Cornwall and Devon holiday chaos as holiday hotspot ‘on its knees’

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Cornwall is a popular holiday destination with an average of 180,000 holidaymakers visiting each summer – and even more over the past two years due to more Britons holidaying at home. However, owners of hotels and restaurants in the region are having difficulties employing staff, putting the hospitality industry in trouble this Easter. Businesses face a “volatile market”, said industry bosses.

Due to a number of issues, including the pandemic and a housing crisis, fewer people want to work in Cornwall and Devon’s hospitality sector.

Many have left in recent months due to these issues.

Covid has meant increased uncertainty, but the cost of living is also to blame.

Rising costs have made it difficult for people to stay in the area, especially as house prices continue to increase.

Many businesses have even introduced staff accommodation and discounts to attract people back to the industry.

However, recruiting employees is still proving difficult.

Craig Holman, manager of Llawnroc Hotel in Gorran Haven, Cornwall, said: “It is dog eat dog getting staff.

“But we are okay, we’ve had more worrying times.

“Sometimes it’s better to have three strong members of staff than five average.

“It is manageable.

“We do good discounts for staff, free parking, food on duty,” the manger added.

Ben Quinn, who runs five catering businesses in Cornwall, revealed he is also struggling with staffing issues – so much so that he is unable to open his new restaurant at Perranporth.

He believed “the solution” was to attract more creatives, parents, students, and others as part-time workers in the hospitality sector.

Ben said: “I have an A&E nurse. She has never worked in hospitality before.

“Her working three days a week in our new restaurant has allowed her to take a breath and have perspective to continue to enjoy nursing.

“We also have trained teachers who are loving the social element and topping up their salaries.”

The business owner added that hospitality was “on its knees”.

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Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, explained: “Job vacancies in hospitality lie at record rates and are double the levels seen in the sector pre-pandemic.

“In areas like Devon and Cornwall, where second home ownership has pushed up house prices and businesses rely on seasonal workers, the issue is even more damaging for local businesses.”

Sally Everton, from Visit Devon, added that the rising cost of living “could affect the consumer decision, and for the businesses there are still recruitment shortages, increased payroll costs, the return to 20 percent VAT, which all add to the volatile market”.

Cornwall Council said in 2021 it faced “exceptional pressures” on housing due to various issues created by the pandemic.

A spokesperson from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said it had created 63,500 affordable homes in south-west England in the past 10 years and the region was receiving £1billion to deliver more.

They added: “Our First Homes scheme is helping first-time buyers and key workers to buy a home in the communities where they live or work by offering homes at a 30 percent discount.”

Meanwhile, Malcolm Bell from Visit Cornwall said businesses were introducing “innovations” to cope with understaffing.

“The more difficult challenge is accommodation availability, due to the housing crisis,” he explained.

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