Restrictions on operations in the sector, which a number of local traders said was pushing their businesses to the brink of collapse, were finally lifted on government-delayed âFreedom Dayâ last month.
But soaring infection rates in the region, which saw South Tyneside case levels among the highest in the country earlier this summer, presented new challenges for local hotel operators.
Staff shortages have also worsened as the consequences of Brexit on the labor market started to be felt this summer in a number of sectors – with tourism having been one of the hardest hit of them.
Despite these difficulties, however, the Grotto site in Marsden Bay reports seeing a welcome return to customary “pre-pandemic” levels.
âIt’s been very busy,â said owner Terry Maughan.
âWe got off to a bit of a backlash start, including losing staff at various times.
âBut we got over it all. In particular, some of the investments we made in the hotel – replacing floors, renovating facilities, etc. – during the months of lockdown really helped us get back to where we were before the pandemic after we reopened this year.
But not all hosts have been so lucky.
The South Shore Guest House on Ocean Road was unable to reopen during the summer months due to understaffing, according to owner Lorraine Grover.
âIt was too difficult to find the workers to be able to reopen,â she said.
“So it looks like we’ll be staying closed for the next month or two, at least.”
According to the owners of the business, however, accommodation continued to reach capacity with âback-to-backâ bookings throughout the summer school vacation period.
âWe’ve had roughly seven consecutive nights,â said Carleigh McCleod, who co-manages the beach cabins.
âIt was difficult when the staff had to isolate themselves. When they were forced to isolate themselves, I had to step in and cover at times.
“But we still have people from across the country. After the next few weeks, we expect things to finally calm down a bit. But it’s been a very busy summer for us.”
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