First-timers say: "We just love your English Riviera'

Hotel sales director

Jackie Kelly - Credit: Submitted

First time holidaymakers loved the English Riviera so much they are already booking a return visit this summer - let alone next year.

Half-term business was booming for the Bay as the tourism and hospitality sector took full advantage of the Staycation mania where people have opted to holiday at home rather than abroad due to Covid restrictions.

The resort and the English Riviera BID Company were keen to make an impression to make sure holidaymakers returned next year when competition is expected to be fierce when the overseas market opens up properly. And it has worked.

Like any other accommodation providers, the recently-opened  Hampton by Hilton Hotel in Torquay was full with 250 guests a  night filling all their 131 rooms over the two weekends.

Director of sales Jackie Kelly said: "It exceeded our expectations. We didn't expect this to happen so quickly."

She reckoned about 70 per cent were first-time visitors and said: "We are starting to see people rebook. We had one lady and her teenage daughter who had family here. They would normally go to Spain but the weather has been incredible and it has been a fabulous experience - they have already booked for July.

"It is mostly families. People have loved  Hilton experience and they have loved Torbay

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"They forgot how great it is to holiday in the UK. They say it like home from home

"The feedback has been quite interesting. They did not know what to expect from Torquay and the Bay. They thought it was going to be a bit cheesy and kiss-me-quick with lots of hen dos. But they found something for everybody to do. 

"They were impressed by the variety of restaurants - it was a shame they were still limited by Covid. We sent them to attractions like Kents Cavern and the Babbacombe Model Village and they were impressed. We also some great feedback from the water sports."

The Hilton is already forming partnerships with the local restaurants, attractions and other holiday businesses to make sure they and the Bay take full advantage of the the fabulous first impressions they have made which will  music to the ears of the BID company who have invested in marketing the Riviera for Staycations and are hoping for a 'yes' vote in a current ballot for a second term of operating.

Jackie says: "The fact is people are realising why go through the stress of airports and getting on a plan when you can  holiday here."