London hospitality businesses see surge in demand from funeral visitors

London is set to see a “huge increase” in hotel bookings and hospitality demand as visitors flock to the city ahead of the Queen’s funeral.

London business leaders said firms are seeing an “increase in footfall and revenue” due to the influx of visitors.

Industry experts have been cautious to estimate the potential financial impact but highlighted that hospitality firms in central London will particularly benefit.

Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The influx of mourners into London from across the UK and internationally means businesses are seeing an increase in footfall and revenue.

“This is particularly the case for the hospitality and service industry.

“Hotels are experiencing a huge increase in bookings and there are lots of businesses supplying event support staff, security and amenities in London this weekend.”

Data intelligence firm STR has said occupancy levels at hotels have been growing at least double the usual pace over the past week.

Queue of people
Tens of thousands of people are queueing to see the Queen lying in state (PA)

Latest figures from the company, using data collated on Monday, showed occupancy levels at 81% in London for the day of the Queen’s funeral, Monday September 19, which it said reflected an increase of 17 percentage points compared with a week earlier.

The data also highlighted occupancy at 85% on Thursday, 81% on Friday, 84% on Saturday and 76% on Sunday.

Thomas Emmanuel, senior director of STR, said increased occupancy levels from visitors could be even higher as the cancellation of events and conferences will have resulted in axed bookings for the period.

Mr Emmanuel told the PA news agency: “The increase in occupancy we’ve seen since last Monday is double what we would expect.

“And that is before you consider that there may have been people who were originally set to come for business events which are likely to have been cancelled.

“Any high demand event for the hotel industry will generate revenue and it comes after these companies have been significantly impacted by Covid.”

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We’re hearing from hotel operators in London that they’ve experienced a surge in bookings since last Thursday’s announcement of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and are aware that those close to the capital are also busier than usual.

“Demand is certain to remain high right up until next Monday’s state funeral, and it’s important to note that the need to billet extra police and other personnel before, during and immediately after the event will have contributed to that, through block bookings for accommodation.”