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The coronavirus pandemic has hit the hospitality industry more than most – but after months of doom and gloom there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.

With COVID-19 infection numbers reducing every day, and the UK’s vaccination programme maintaining its fast pace, the coronavirus at last seems to be on the back foot.

Here, John Mullen, RoomRaccoon’s Country Manager UK, reflects on the drama of the last 18 months and how the industry is set to return stronger than ever.

This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that from May 17, hotels, hostels, B&Bs and guest houses can reopen, and that pubs and restaurants can serve customers indoors again.

It is superb news for our industry, something we have been eagerly waiting for as infection rates slowly dropped across the UK.

When the first headlines started appearing warning that a highly contagious virus was on the loose back in January last year, few of us could fully comprehend the massive effect it would have on our lives and livelihoods.

But as the death toll kept rising, the scale of the pandemic soon become apparent to all.

It has been a trying time for hoteliers and the hospitality sector more than most.

When you rely on guests to make an income, and they are forbidden to come and stay, it’s a hard task for a hotel to stay afloat.

But most have managed to keep going and will now be looking to come back bigger and better than ever.

Many hotels have taken the time to make improvements to their establishments, to streamline and upgrade their backroom systems to make sure they are ready to go as soon as they get the go-ahead.

Personally, I am very optimistic about the future.

The grit and determination I have seen in the hospitality industry to keep going through the most difficult of circumstances shows the true resilience of the sector.

May 17 is going to be a happy relief to all who work in the industry - and a chance to return doing what we do best.