HOTELS across Inverness are preparing to reopen on July 15 with many changes applying – including the prices.
The era of sky-high charges for scarce rooms in the Highland capital is over, for this year at least.
During the tourism bonanza of recent years which has seen Inverness become one of the most popular destinations in Britain, charges for a room have risen to £300 and beyond.
Hotels have been criticised for imposing prices more akin to London’s Mayfair than a regional city.
But on a supply and demand basis as visitors flooded in they still were able to fill their rooms.
Prices have now plummeted as the severely ailing tourist industry struggles to get back on to its feet.
Visitors will be able to get accommodation which, in comparison with previous years, is bargain basement.
Rooms are available at hotels across the city at around a third of the cost of previous high summers.
For the night of July 21-22, the top-end riverside Rocpool is charging £194 for a double room, but it’s the exception.
Much cheaper alternatives advertised are the Mercure, at £110; the Columba (£69); the Pentahotel (£75); the Glen Mhor (£88); the Palace (£124); the Holiday Inn (£55); the Jurys Inn (£82); the Craigmonie (£79); the Beaufort (£75) and the Royal Highland (£85). And it may be possible to get prices that are even lower.
A double room at the Old North Inn at Bogroy outside Inverness can be booked for just £55. In most cases breakfast is also included.
These are peak season prices unseen in recent years.
However, this year is like no other. And the overriding question is – will many people be inclined to travel to the Highlands, particularly after confusion over Nicola Sturgeon’s quarantine warning for people from England.
With two weeks to go before the reopening date, city hoteliers will be hoping that an upturn in the mood of the nation leads to many more people shaking off the shackles of lockdown and trying to make the most of holiday options available.
Back in business in mid-July, there is still plenty time to bring in money and make up at least some lost ground.
Riverside hotels which would normally be teeming with coach parties from Europe, America and Japan have lost out on that segment of the business, which is unlikely to return again anytime soon.
These tours are mainly the preserve of holidaymakers in their 50s and 60s who will be shying away from clustering in long-haul coach tours for the foreseeable future.
However, as staff prepare to return to an environment with huge emphasis on hygiene and new protective measures prospects for the industry, as with so much else, remain uncertain and unpredictable.
Tourism in Inverness and the Highlands will bounce back, and so will those sky-high prices.
But the recovery will take time. And “rock-bottom” room charges are liable to be on offer at reception desks for many months ahead.