Hospitality suffers MGP hangover

Sunday 11th September 2022 11:00 am
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The Courthouse bar on Athol Street, Douglas - pictured is director Ben Sowrey

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Hospitality businesses have been hit hard by the shortening of the Manx Grand Prix.

Ben Sowrey, landlord at the Ginger Hall in Sulby, spoke to the Courier about the effect of the shortened race period on hospitality businesses around the island. He called this year’s event ‘another nail in the coffin for me and my peers in hospitality’.

He said: ‘We’re normally used to having 10 solid busy days, but with this new-look timescale they gave us we had about four days that were marginally busier than usual.

‘And we had a concentration of about four busy days over the main weekend.

‘It pales in comparison to what we would normally expect.

‘Takings were down by half compared to the last GP.’

The decision to shorten the event was by festival organisers in January.

Mr Sowrey, who also runs the Courthouse bar in Douglas, said that he felt they did not receive enough notice of the shortened event.

‘I don’t know what we could have done anyway.

‘What we were left with was quite a few visitors twiddling their thumbs.’

A lot of visitors booked the whole 14 days in the island before the MGP was shortened to nine days.

This left visitors in the island wondering what to do with themselves.

‘There wasn’t enough of them to merit us continuing with a lively programme of events at the pub.’

The Courier asked how Mr Sowrey could prepare for the shortened event next year.

He said: ‘There is not a lot we can do that can plug that gap.

‘It is more of a case of what we have become used to. MGP is a really essential injection of cashflow right before the quiet months, we’ve just got to accept that that’s gone.’

Mr Sowrey tried to replicate a lot of events he installed for the TT races.

But he said: ‘It’s just a different crowd.

‘It’s not such a buoyant, festival vibe as TT, where people are willing to spend big money.’

Michael George, owner of the Welbeck Hotel in Douglas, told the Courier: ‘It was a disappointment as soon as they announced it, and it was a big disappointment to the guests too.’

‘The general feeling from the guests themselves is that they blinked and it was all over.

‘Most people seemed to feel that they preferred it to have last the whole second week.’

Michael said that it ‘left an empty hole’ for his business, which was the ‘second most lucrative week of the year’.

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