Wet weather means 'worst summer ever' for tourism in Weston-super-Mare
The wettest summer weather since records began has left shops struggling to get hold of British-grown fruit and vegetables, while tourists stay away from outdoor attractions.
Prolonged periods of rain are now taking their toll on traditional British crops and shoppers have started to see the knock-on effect with empty shelves and higher prices.
And more bad weather is on the way later in the week, with the Met Office issuing a severe weather warning of heavy showers, thunderstorms and localised flooding on Friday.
The weather is taking its toll on the area’s tourism industry, with coach firms cancelling hotel bookings in Weston-super-Mare – some giving only three days notice – as people have chosen to stay at home.
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Hotel and restaurant owners in Weston say trade during June fell by up to 60 per cent.
Only attractions with undercover areas, such as Weston’s Grand Pier, Bristol Zoo and the ss Great Britain, have reported numbers holding up.
Weston Hotels and Restaurants Association president Keith Fearn said: “This has been our worst summer ever.”
Mr Fearn, 56, has run the Monaco and Midland Hotel at Knightstone Road for the last 12 years and said only six out of the 30 rooms of the Midland Hotel were now occupied.
Mr Fearn said: “We do depend a lot on knock-on-the-door trade and this has almost completely disappeared.”
Mr Fearn employs 12 staff at his hotel and has had to reduce their hours and lay some off temporarily until the situation improves.
He added: “The drop in trade also affects the local shops, restaurants and bars as the visitors are just not here.”
Outdoor tourist attractions across the region are also suffering.
Clevedon Pier has had to close on a number of occasions and the landing stage at the end of the pier has been washed away twice during June because of high tides and strong winds.
Piermistress Linda Strong said: “All we can hope for now is a heatwave in July and August.”
Weston Grand Pier co-owner Michelle Michael was more upbeat, saying: “The Grand Pier is unusual in that it is a very large indoor venue so we can take a huge volume of visitors without becoming too crowded.”
Holiday firms have seen a surge in the number of people booking trips abroad in search of sun and Bristol Airport is gearing up for a busy summer.
Global Independent Travel, based in Clevedon, is reporting an increase in the number of people booking holidays abroad.
Manager Lisa Weakley said: “A lot of people have come in wanting to get away from the rain.”
Gardeners are also struggling to bring on their crops due to the rain and a lack of the sunshine needed to bring on fruit and vegetables.
Portishead and District Allotments Association president Arthur Terry said he had not experienced summer weather like this in 30 years of tending his perches.
Mr Terry said: “The bad weather has meant that all crops are well behind.
“There has not been the sun and warmth needed to bring them on and because of the weather people are struggling to get onto their allotments to tend to their produce.
“I have had an allotment for 30 years and this is the wettest summer I have ever known. All gardeners are struggling with the conditions.”
June was the wettest since records began in 1910, leaving local greengrocers struggling to source locally-grown vegetables.
Some are having to ship supplies in from southern Europe, others cannot get hold of some vegetables at all.
Broccoli has been particularly affected, with prices more than trebling in recent days. The prices of cauliflower, carrots and cabbage have also soared.
Bryn Williams, manager of PV Turner, in Regent Street, Kingswood, said: “It is very difficult to get hold of any decent English veg.
“Broccoli is costing us £20 a box and we’re selling for £1.99 a pound so we’re losing money on that.”
Mike Rudge, 43, owner of Ashton Fruit Shop in Bedminster, said: “Broccoli and cauliflower are approximately four times more expensive than usual.
“The sale of summer fruits, such as peaches, nectarines and raspberries, are slower because people want something more substantial to eat in this wetter weather.”
Simon Bennett, 28, who works in the produce department at The Better Food Company in St Werburgh’s, said: “It’s been a total nightmare – the worst I’ve ever seen it.
“We’re now having to source from abroad. We try to source organically but because of the amount of rain it is attracting lots of slugs and a lot of crops are getting ruined.”
Tom Hagon, who co-owns Reg The Veg in Clifton, said supplies of broccoli were being brought in from as far away as Portugal.
He said: “The rain has meant farmers are not able to produce the level of crop they normally do.
“This has resulted in the price of a box of broccoli rising from around £8 a box to £20 – £22 a box and this is an increase we are having to pass on to the customer.”
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