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Mixed views on hospitality players but phones ring off the hook ahead of next week’s reopening

Analysts are optimistic for hotels, pubs and restaurants, though holiday packages may recover more slowly

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Analysts have mixed views on hospitality players although England’s operators have been flooded with bookings before next week’s reopening.

Following the government’s announcement on reopening for hotels, B&B and camping grounds earlier this week, Britain’s holidaymakers have been trying to secure a spot, according to the BBC.

But crowded beaches have prompted the government to hint at closures if people do not respect social distancing.

“We just have to recognise yesterday was the hottest day of the year… Those scenes at Bournemouth are a matter for concern,” Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Friday.

Meanwhile, the government is finalising agreements with popular summer destinations, such as Spain and Italy, to scrap the mandatory two-week quarantine rule for travellers coming to the UK.

“This should help support the tourism industry, which is vital to many in the UK and Europe. The value of supporting our and other economies should not be underestimated,” Peel Hunt commented.

Thumbs up for hotels

Looking at companies, the broker expects hotel bookings will see a quick return to normal as “business personal relationships benefit from human contact”, with a spike in initial demand as “Covid-19-enforced savings are spent and key clients get visited”.

In particular, Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC (LON:IHG) is expected to recover faster than operators with more upscale city-centre hotels thanks to its midmarket, domestic-focused business.

READ: Whitbread, Intercontinental Hotels higher on July reopening date

Similarly, Jefferies sees Premier Inn owner Whitbread PLC (LON:WTB) as one of the fastest operators to see recovery, especially with the recent £1bn rights issue to make strategic investments during the downturn.

Analysts expect the FTSE 100-listed firm to reach 75% of 2019 occupancy by December and all of it by September 2021, while pricing will be restored by March 2022.

Concerns for overseas bookings

However, Liberum does not hold the same optimism for holiday packages, such as the ones sold by On the Beach (LON:OTB), with demand recovering properly only in 2022.

“It is widely accepted that overseas travel will be one of the last sectors to re-emerge from lockdown restrictions, with summer 2020 travel appearing to be minimal at best given current border restrictions and grounded flights,” the broker noted.

“There is some hope with certain airlines expecting to reopen in the near future… However, we do expect demand to begin to return in 2021, albeit at a slower rate than seen in previous crises”

Optimism for food and drink

Pubs and restaurants may be more upbeat, especially with the new ‘one metre plus’ social distancing rule, rather than the previous two metres.

According to Liberum, to allow operators such as City Pub Group Plc (LON:CPB) and Loungers PLC (LON:LGRS), to accelerate the planned reopening of some sites that may not have been profitable under the two-metre restrictions.

READ: Government allows pubs and restaurants to reopen on July 4

Publican Marston’s PLC (LON:MARS) is expected to benefit from its location outside city centres with plentiful outside space, though most pubs and restaurants can reportedly trade at 70% capacity under the new rule.

Leisure has to wait

In the leisure sector, cinemas made the headlines as they will reopen without screenings singalongs or selling pick’n’mix amid other safety rules.

Other players, such as Hollywood Bowl Group PLC (LON:BOWL), Ten Entertainment Group PLC (LON:TEG) and The Gym Group PLC(LON:GYM) have come under pressure as they will not be allowed to open next week.

Quick facts: Intercontinental Hotels

Price: 3829 GBX

LSE:IHG
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £6.99 billion
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