HOTELS and pubs remain hopeful business will start booming again as they prepare to welcome back customers this weekend.

Preparations are nearly complete for what is being called Super Saturday, when many pubs, bars, hairdressers and hotels will re-open following the coronavirus lockdown.

And though many hotel owners in Southend remain cautious, they say there has been plenty of interest.

Kerry Ward, who runs Pebbles Hotel, said: “We’re all booked up for this weekend. We’re hoping it’s going to be a busy summer.

“We’ve had quite a few cancellations because of weddings being moved.

“It’s probably been a bit quieter than we were expecting because the weekends ahead aren’t fully booked yet.

“I think a lot of people are just waiting to see how things play out before deciding what they’re doing this summer.”

With travel restrictions in place across the world due to the pandemic, some are hoping British tourists will be booking staycations this summer and flock to seaside towns instead.

Emma Bearman, owners of the Moorings bed and breakfast said: “We’ve had a lot of interest throughout the lockdown so it’s more a case of hoping that continues.

“We will only be opening in the week because we still don’t fully know how things will play out.

“I actually get a lot of people coming from Europe staying here so it will be interesting to see if that changes and we get more people booking breaks with us rather than going abroad.”

Pubs are also gearing up for what they are hoping will be a busy re-opening.

Steve Carey, who runs the Jolly Friar in Basildon, said: “We don’t want to disappoint people so we’re not actually taking bookings.

“We’re expecting it to be busy and we might have to ask people to queue and wait outside if there are too many people.

“We’ll have lots of staff around to help customers and show them where to go.”

Despite the upbeat mood within the hospitality industry, others remain unsure if business will return in the midst of the global pandemic.

Southend councillor Matt Dent, who represents Kursaal ward, said: “I do miss the pub and am looking forward to getting back to the local, but I think I’m going to give them a wide berth for the immediate future.

“I can see this going one of two ways: either people flock to the pubs and we have scenes like we’ve seen at the seafront on sunny weekends gone by, or people will be frightened and will stay away, resulting in a quiet weekend.

“I would urge residents to be cautious this weekend, and to first and foremost protect themselves.”