Two thirds of hotel and hospitality businesses saw an increase in sales and profits in the last 12 months, according to a major report on the local leisure sector.
The annual MHA Hospitality and Tourism Survey, put together in conjunction with Blackpool accountants Moore and Smalley, shows that 67 per cent of hospitality businesses increased turnover while 64 per cent increased profits.
More than half of respondents (52 per cent) expect a further increase in profits in the next year.
In another sign of confidence in the sector almost nine in 10 (89 per cent) leisure operators indicated they would be investing in improvements to buildings and infrastructure, while more than half will also be investing in staff training and marketing.
More than 100 regional hotel and tourism operators were interviewed as part of the research by Moore and Smalley and MHA, a group of UK independent accountancy and business advisory firms.
Colin Johnson, head of the leisure and tourism team at Moore and Smalley, said: “The findings of this research are encouraging and paint a picture of growth and optimism in the leisure sector as the summer season gets under way.
“We mustn’t get carried away though as there are still many challenges for hotel and leisure businesses to overcome.
“The full impact of the National Living Wage on profits is still unknown and some business are still to get to grips with auto-enrolment pension legislation. These are two major issues that businesses need to plan for.”
Other findings of the survey included:
n 55 per cent of respondents employ staff on zero hour contracts. 35 per cent of these employees are given at least 21 hours a week.
n 60 per cent have not yet had to auto enrol their staff into a pension scheme. Of those, 34 per cent haven’t yet put a plan in place
n 63 per cent would like to see more help from their local authority to promote their region and improve business in their area.
n 53 per cent would like to see more marketing to promote their region and improve business locally.
n 20 per cent said they would be increasing prices to offset the effect of the National Living Wage.