When England wins, so do hotels

A large British expat community boosts food and drink sales

It is not just England football fans who will be hoping for a win when the national side takes on Slovenia in a make-or-break FIFA World Cup clash in Port Elizabeth tonight. Hotels and venues around the country also stand to benefit from the team remaining in the competition. The large community of British expatriates means the England matches are generally the most popular games, benefiting those venues screening the matches. An early exit from the competition could have a major impact on food and drink revenues.

"I'm hopeful that England gets through and I'm hopeful for the reason of revenues," said Peter Skudutis, the manager of Barasti, at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort in Dubai. "We're getting a good turnout for all the games but we're being inundated during the England games with huge crowds." Venues showing the matches have reported increased food and drink sales compared with the same period last year as a direct result of the World Cup, saying all the games have attracted many people of different nationalities.

"Games like England and Brazil typically attract a lot of people," said Nicola Zamboni, the director of food and beverage at the Media Rotana hotel in Dubai. "Any big team makes it more interesting." He said if England were knocked out of the competition, some customers would probably be inclined to spend less. Venues such as Nelson's at the hotel, which is particularly popular among England supporters, could be hardest hit.

But optimism remains, despite the dismal performances the English players have provided so far. "I think England will progress," Mr Zamboni said, adding that if England were knocked out, large numbers of people would still come to watch the matches. The summer is typically a slow period for hotels and venues such as Barasti, which is largely an outdoor venue, usually see a drop in business during the season because of the uncomfortably high temperatures.

Mr Skudutis said Barasti's purpose-built air-conditioned dome-shaped "stadium" venue had been running at full capacity every night and he expected business to pick up even more as the final matches approached, regardless of whether England remained in the competition. "At the end of the day this is the World Cup," he said. rbundhun@thenational.ae

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