The Open Golf in Sandwich: residents set to rake in thousands by living in tents
Jo Hammond and her husband Steve are not interested in golf.
Having one of the biggest sporting events in the world happening on their doorstep in a few weeks usually wouldn’t bring them much excitement.
But it probably will.
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And the reason has nothing to do with fairways, putting surfaces or tee boxes, although it is green.
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They are going to make a lot of money in the next few weeks.
Like many in our area, they rent their homes for thousands of pounds for just a few days.
Demand for local accommodation is skyrocketing for the 149th Open Golf Championship at Royal St George’s, Sandwich starting July 11.
A quick glance at popular vacation rental websites reveals some local properties listed at astronomical prices.
The few remaining rooms in Sandwich itself cost around £ 2,000 for the Open’s four main nights.
If you want an entire property, well, there is hardly anything in Sandwich.
But in nearby Deal, you have a handful of cottages to choose from, each of which will set you back well over £ 5,000.
Against this backdrop, Jo and Steve’s prices for renting their period detached house in Walmer compare favorably.
They say they never took the idea with the intention of scamming anyone.
But they sensed the financial opportunity – and grabbed it with both hands.
They’ll be handing over their entire house to strangers for the duration of the Open, instead camping nearby.
The children will be in tents to get ready for school, as well as to cycle to and from there as the bus line does not pass through there.
“I don’t think it’s really affected them yet, but I’m sure it will when they need to put all their stuff away and clear their closet,” said Jo.
“The older one is less enthusiastic about having to go to school while camping. They said it was a little weird to cycle to school.
“But we are used to camping – we have a 12 person tent which we use a lot.
“It certainly generated a lot of interest from our friends.
“We have a few friends who do the same but others find it a bit odd, like, ‘Do you really stay home and go through your stuff?
“We’ve never done this before, but we sometimes rent our spare room on Airbnb, so we’re used to having strangers here and giving them a key and things like that.
“We haven’t had much of a problem for over two years.
“For us, it’s still a big upheaval, because we have two children and two dogs.
“It’s certainly not easy. But for us it was an opportunity.
“We have a period property and it is still in need of maintenance so this is a chance to save some money for it.”
Jo and Steve initially advertised their ownership through the official Open Golf office, but a deal for an NBC U.S. television team to stay has failed due to the pandemic.
However, they soon received another request through Airbnb.
The going rate of £ 800 per night compares to just £ 60 per night for the room they normally rent.
The pandemic seems to have affected some things, however.
Authorities recently announced that the number will be limited to 32,000 per day, just over half of the number of participants at the last Open event in 2019.
But the biggest impact, at least for local hospitality, seems to be the problems posed by restrictions on overseas travel.
Local guesthouses, like the one owned by another Walmer resident, Joanna Thomson, hoped to take advantage of the many wealthy Americans known to love coming for the big event.
Ultimately, her booking for two wealthy friends across the pond fell over concerns about travel and whether the rules might suddenly change, as they so often have.
“I started the business in time for the last Open we held here in 2009,” said Joanna.
“It’s great because they’re nice people and they pay so much.
“We received a four-figure down payment last March, before COVID. We were getting so many requests.
“I asked these two Americans to pay a phenomenal amount, but one of them canceled about six weeks ago.
“He said his friend didn’t want to travel during the COVID era, which you can understand.
“I hadn’t reopened since the pandemic and I wasn’t sure I was really going to do it, but I thought I would give the Open one last chance.
“But I made the decision about a month ago that I wasn’t going to reopen.
“I still get a lot of requests, even now, but not from people paying ridiculous amounts like Americans were going to pay.”
So it looks like there will certainly be some reduction in the positive impact on the local economy.
The figures previously released by the council may need to be revised, but they are still substantial.
Some £ 30million in local spending by visitors is expected during Championship week.
Some 600 million television viewing households around the world are expected to generate tourism marketing profits of over £ 50 million.
And the good news for the financially savvy locals is that this is not the last-ditch sedan.
The Open operates on a regular rotation system of famous courses, which means there is a good chance it will be back at Sandwich very soon.
Medway Council is encouraging local businesses that have been affected by government restrictions in place since November 2020, to apply for financial support.
The council received more than £ 8million in Additional Restriction Grants (ARG2) from the government to support businesses and independent traders between December 2020 and March 2022.
Businesses large and small, as well as independent traders, are encouraged to apply as they could receive funding if they were forced to close, or if they have suffered a loss of income of 30% or more since the second nationwide lockdown. Last year.
Businesses can apply for ARG funding if they are actively trading from property in Medway and are not eligible for a Local Restrictions grant.
To learn more click here.
With the pandemic hopefully well behind us by then there will be an even better opportunity to cash in.
This means that it doesn’t matter if you are a fan of golf, or if you are not, like the Hammonds.
Either way, the Open is a very positive thing for the locals.