B&B owner forecasts boom time for tourism in Northumberland but only when the time is right

An award-winning B&B has forecast a boom time for the Northumberland tourism industry but only if visitors return when it is safe to do so.

St Cuthbert’s House in Seahouses, owned by Jeff and Jill Sutheran, will not reopen even if accommodation providers are given the green light to do so from July 4.

Jeff said: “I agree with the ‘don’t come yet’ messaging from Northumberland Tourism. I think it’s right that they are saying ‘we look forward to seeing you as soon as it’s safe’.

“If the brakes come off too soon and we get another spike we could mess the whole year up and maybe next spring.

“We have decided that we are not going to open our business at the first available opportunity.

“I understand there will be those who feel they need to do that but we feel that for the safety of our guests and ourselves we need to wait. There is such uncertainty about the virus.”

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Bright future predicted for tourism in Northumberland.

However, he can see many positives for Northumberland in the longer term.

Jeff and Jill Sutheran of St Cuthbert's House, North Sunderland, celebrate success at the North East Tourism Awards.

“There are rays of hope,” he said. “Clearly it’s going to be difficult for everyone to travel internationally, even if they wanted to. But will people choose to expose themselves to sitting on an aeroplane with face masks on?

“I think when things eventually come back it’s going to be a boom time for the national tourist industry.

“I think lots of people will holiday in the UK and when they come to Northumberland they will find out what a fantastic place it is.

“We are going to be exposed to a new audience that hasn’t yet discovered Northumberland.”

In the short term, however, he understands the financial concerns many tourism businesses have.

“We haven’t had a paying customer in 2020,” said Jeff. “This is our primary source of income so has created real difficulties.

“We are fortunate in so far as the government provision to shore up businesses and employers has helped to some degree but I am well aware there are some tourism businesses which have fallen through the cracks.

“Financially it’s very difficult but it’s difficult for everyone the world over and it’s a lot worse for some.”

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