HOTELIERS in Southampton and Dorset have joined forces for the first time in a bid to help get the industry back on its feet.

Members of the two areas’ hospitality associations are working together as they prepare for the “long road to recovery”.

Richard Powell, chairman of Southampton and Region Hoteliers Association, and Tim Seward, his opposite number in Dorset’s BH Area Hospitality Association (BAHA), said their organisations were united for the first time.

In a joint statement, they said: “The hospitality industry has been hit hard, it was one of the first impacted, and it is likely to be a long road to recovery ahead. We are all working hard behind the scenes to understand the vast amount of information out there, and very much reliant on government initiatives and consumer behaviour. There have been countless webinars, podcasts, Zoom calls and blogs on what the future may look like.”

They added: “The area has a big seasonal leisure trade, with ferries to France, cruise ships, wonderful beaches and such amazing attractions across the whole of the Hampshire and Dorset area – as well as two incredible National Parks in the New Forest and South Downs.

“The ability to navigate our way through the vast amount of information, and to share best practice across the region is very important. We want to make sure that all our businesses are fit and ready to give guests confidence to return as soon as able.”

They said they were also looking out for their teams during a situation which could cause anxiety.

“For the first time ever, we have united the hoteliers associations across Southampton, and BAHA (BH Area Hospitality Associations), and are starting to work with contacts in Weymouth, Portsmouth and the New Forest, with the chairperson across each of those regions maintaining regular communication and cascading information as appropriate,” they said.

“We have also joined forces with local councils, city, town and coastal BIDs, Business South, economic development offices and the Institute of Hospitality. We joined each other’s Zoom calls and communication updates.

“We have ensured that hotels and hospitality remains firmly at the top of the local recovery agenda, with a key focus on teams' mental wellbeing, with free webinars in association with the Institute of Hospitality.”

Current initiatives included codes of action and best practice, they said.

“Hospitality is one big family, and having a united voice across central South has never been more important than it is now,” they added.