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High demand for summer yacht berths won't make up for harbour's lost earnings over pandemic

Income from visitor berths was down 82% in May and 61% in June
Income from visitor berths was down 82% in May and 61% in June

HIGH demand for visitor yacht berths in Lymington Harbour this summer will not make up for the substantial loss of income cause by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The short and long-term visitor berths, which are let out and managed by Lymington Harbour Commission, represent a substantial proportion of its income. Last financial year visitor berths generated a combined income of just over £230,000 for the authority.

Financial reports circulated during a Lymington Harbour Commissioners meeting on Monday showed the income generated from visitor berths was down 82% in May and 61% in June.

Harbour Master Ryan Willegers revealed the authority received no income from visitor berths in April when the UK was in full lockdown.

He said: “Around a week before full lockdown we tried to mitigate the financial impact by offering a proportion of our visitor berths as longer term seasonal lets.

“Some of those who took us up on the offer were able to get their boats to Lymington but once lockdown came into force it was not possible for anyone to move their boats.”

The authority was also unable to let berths out overnight before the easing of lockdown restrictions on 4th July, which compounded losses.

Mr Willegers said: “Going forward, our berth capacity this summer will be reduced on our usual numbers because of our commitment to longer terms lets and to allow for social distancing. So even if we have high demand and good weather for the rest of the summer we will still be significantly down on last year.”

Mr Willegers said the authority had been able to mitigate some of the financial losses by making use of the government’s furlough scheme for permanent staff and delaying the recruitment of seasonal workers.

He added: “Since we have reopened the river has been very busy and I’m sure at the end of the year we will be a better position than many other businesses.

“But the fact remains that you work to a business plan and there was no plan for what has happened this year.”

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