DINERS eating out at pubs and restaurants in the New Forest can enjoy midweek deals while aiding the recovery of the local pandemic-hit hospitality industry, under a new business campaign.
Establishments offering discounts until the end of November include the Balmer Lawn Hotel and Careys Manor Hotel in Brockenhurst, the Woodside Inn in Fordingbridge, Furzey Gardens tea rooms in Minstead, and Rays Italian in Milford.
Tourism group Go New Forest (GNF), which is leading the scheme, will also be launching a Shop 4 Less initiative through the provision of a half-price card to save shoppers money and give them access to exclusive offers and services at more than 300 shops and businesses.
The card is usually priced at £10 but can be bought for £5 until the end of December.
Go New Forest chief executive Anthony Climpson said its 200-plus members had made real efforts to provide Covid-secure services and ensure social distancing so customers and guests could visit with confidence.
“We continue to circulate to members all relevant government and industry Covid-19 guidance,” said Mr Climpson. “Since March, GNF has sent round 98 separate member updates to ensure all its businesses have the very latest information.”
He continued: “The visitor economy enjoyed a stunningly successful summer, and these campaigns seek to keep the momentum going right up until Christmas.
“Projections for October are on a par year on year but November is looking very challenging for hospitality, with falls in bookings estimated to be around 50%.”
The festive period is usually a time when the industry generates a huge amount of revenue, but with the prospect of no Christmas parties or group bookings of more than six, businesses predict trade could plummet by up to 70%.
Social distancing rules have resulted in an average 30% drop in turnover, according to the tourism group, with similar losses caused by the recent 10pm curfew on hospitality.
Michael Clitheroe, general manager at Balmer Lawn Hotel, which will take part in the Eat Out 4 Less initiative, said: “This campaign is not just a vital tool for aiding the recovery of local hospitality businesses, it is critical in supporting the wider destination and its supply chain.
“Tailoring special offers aimed at increasing visitor and local resident diners is precisely why Balmer Lawn Hotel is so pleased to be part of the scheme.”
Mr Climpson added: “Covid-19 has really demonstrated the true value of tourism, both in local revenue and job creation, particularly the large number of non-tourism businesses and jobs the industry supports in its supply chain.
“Go New Forest members have long understood the importance of protecting the qualities that make the New Forest so special.
“The pandemic has forced us all to re-evaluate the important things in life, so to be able to walk along the coast, in the Forest or visit one of our many attractions is a great joy.”
Traffic to the Go New Forest website has seen a big increase, said Mr Climpson, demonstrating the popularity of staycations since restrictions on overseas travel were introduced.
New Forest District Council has provided a £15,000 grant to help support the campaign.
To find out more, visit www.thenewforest.co.uk