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The owner of Premier Inn hotels has reported strong demand at UK tourist spots as Britons holiday domestically, but hotels at airports and in central London continue to struggle.

Whitbread, which also owns restaurant brands including Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, has suffered a torrid year of enforced closures, but said on Thursday that it had seen “encouraging trends” since 17 May, when Covid rules in England were eased to allow hotels to reopen.

UK hotel sales were 73% of their pre-pandemic level between reopening and 14 June as domestic tourism boomed after months of lockdown. Holiday locations with Premier Inn hotels include Skegness, Scarborough, Brighton, Cornwall, south Wales, the Lake District and the Highlands.

That gave glimmers of hope after what the chain had previously described as “one of the most challenging years” in its 279-year history. The company lost £1bn in the year to the end of February. It announced up to 6,000 redundancies in September.

Whitbread said:

“We expect leisure demand in coastal and other tourist locations to remain very strong throughout the summer, while the full recovery of leisure demand is dependent on the final release of lockdown, and the return of unrestricted events.”

Dan Coatsworth (@Dan_Coatsworth)

Decent update from Whitbread. As suspected, coastal locations seeing strong demand as people rush to book up their UK summer holidays. London and airport locations a bit patchy. Shares up 3% today, +12.7% year to date #WTB

June 17, 2021

Whitbread’s shares are up over 3%, near the top on the FTSE 100.