Tourism boost for Barking and Dagenham

TOURISM in the borough could receive a major boost after it emerged almost every inn on the Barking hotel strip is harbouring recession-defying expansion plans. Three of the four budget hotels in Highbridge Road – the Premier Inn, Ibis and Etap – are co

TOURISM in the borough could receive a major boost after it emerged almost every inn on the "Barking hotel strip" is harbouring recession-defying expansion plans.

Three of the four budget hotels in Highbridge Road - the Premier Inn, Ibis and Etap - are controlled by groups reporting multi-million-pound profits and are planning to build extra rooms.

Barking and Dagenham Chamber of Commerce has hailed the proposals coming after the opening of the �3.2million, 66-room Travelodge in Ripple Road, Barking Town Centre, in October.

It welcomed the expansions as a positive step "in a sea of gloom and despondency" that could establish the borough as a tourist destination and boost business.

General secretary John Tame said: "The 2012 Olympics are going to be down the road. There is going to be a massive overflow. London won't be able to accommodate all of the people who turn up and they may not be able to afford London Prices."

Accor multi-national hotel group, which reported 875million euros (�794m) pre-tax profits last month, is planning to enlarge the Etap from 70 to 96 rooms and the 86-room Ibis with a three-storey and restaurant extension.

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Whitbread, the UK's largest hotel and restaurant empire controlling Costa Coffee and Beefeater, intends to enlarge its 88-room Premier Inn.

Whitbread, which reported �210million operating profits last year, has lodged blueprints for an extra 26 rooms and is expected to submit final proposals in the next few weeks. Barking and Dagenham councillors were due to make a decision on the Etap expansion last night (Wednesday).

Planning officers have endorsed it, saying in a report: "The extension to the hotel will provide an upgraded tourist facility which will benefit visitors to Barking and Dagenham.

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