B&Bs still split over Brexit

A two-year study published this month reveals Britain’s hospitality industry continues to be split when it comes to membership of the EU

B&B owners across the country took part in the study conducted by online booking specialist eviivo, which reveals they are as divided as the rest of the UK.

The survey conducted initially polled hosts and hoteliers on their opinions on Brexit months before the referendum in 2016 to establish their views towards the impact of Brexit on the hospitality sector. Now two years later the research has been carried out again to determine whether those views have changed as Brexit nears.

The response from B&B owners was split, with 43% now voting to stay, 42% voting to leave, and 15% saying they were unsure. The gap between leave and remain has narrowed considerably compared to the study conducted in 2016, which showed 50%, exactly half of participants wanting to leave Europe; and just over a third wanting to remain (38%).

The survey also found that three in ten B&B owners felt they were misled by politicians during the campaign, with 40% believing there should be a second referendum, and over half (56%) now believing that things are best left with Parliament.

When asked about the expected impact of Brexit on business, 34% of B&B owners believe the breakaway will be bad for business in the long run.  However, it’s not all doom and gloom, with 37% of respondents believing bookings from UK residents will increase in the wake of Brexit, with holiday makers choosing to rediscover the joys of the short British break.

When it comes to leading negotiations in Brussels, nearly two-thirds of B&B owners were not confident that Theresa May was the right person to lead the Brexit process, with the remaining 36% still seeing her a favourable candidate. Fellow Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was second to May, with just 11% of confidence from those polled.

Prior to his resignation, Boris Johnson’s appeal waned significantly in the past two years. In the 2016 survey – which took place prior to Mr Johnson declaring in favour of Brexit – a whopping 43% of respondents believed that he was the best person to lead the transition into Brexit. However, two years on, his appeal has dramatically dropped to 7%.

Amusingly, following a heroic World Cup campaign, the study revealed more owners favoured Gareth Southgate (4%) than Jeremy Corbyn (3%) to lead Brexit negotiations, suggesting that the Labour leader may want to make a few press trips to some local B&Bs in the near future.

But according to Eviivo it looks like it might be good news all the way for our beloved traditional English breakfast, since as many as a fifth of B&B owners (19%) have expressed concerns that, in the wake of Brexit, the cost of a croissant will increase when the UK departs from the EU in March 2019.

CEO Michele Fitzpatrick said: “It is clear that Brexit is creating an uncomfortable level of uncertainty, and that people would welcome stronger leadership by Parliament and our politicians.  Brexit or not, the sector will just carry on.  Independent hosts and B&Bs are the heart of the UK, our national home really, and some of the most resilient people I know.  If they continue to focus on what they do best, being the most welcoming hosts, I have no doubt that the UK will continue to remain a legendary and attractive destination for visitors the world over.”