BUSINESS leaders and hoteliers in St Ives are hoping for a boom in Easter trading after severe weather saw a drop in visitor numbers over the February half-term.
Despite St Ives getting off relatively lightly from the recent storms which hit west Cornwall, several hotels and guest houses reported a spate of cancellations in the run-up to the school holiday.
John Hill, committee member of St Ives Chamber of Commerce, said the drop in tourists was noticeable, with retailers and catering units reporting slow business.
Mr Hill, who co-owns Pels, said: "The feeling was that the run up to half-term and the first part of the week was very quiet. The second half of the week was busier but not as busy as usual. It definitely had an impact."
With more severe weather set to hit the county in March, Mr Hill said it was vital that the town had a good start to the season in April.
"The town needs Easter. It is one of the busiest times of year and the first really big boost to the local income. So, if it doesn't happen, I think people are going to struggle."
Small businesses in the town are now waiting on financial help from the Government to help with the shortfall from the storm.
"We are very interested in the rate relief scheme. We need help. Anything the Government and the council can do is welcomed," said Mr Hill.
Disruption to the railway line at Dawlish has had a knock-on effect for St Ives and the surrounding areas.
Statesman Rail, a St Erth-based leisure train operator which runs a luxury service from Leeds and the Midlands into Penzance, has had to cancel a tour for 300 guests in April after it was announced that the rebuilding of the rail line would take longer than anticipated.
Tregenna Castle has been significantly affected by the cancellation, as guests from the trip had booked out the whole hotel.
Sheila Barker, general manager, said: "It was a massive booking for the hotel, they come every two years. It will definitely have an effect. Easter is looking quite quiet, but people do tend to book last minute."
The hotel reported an increase in cancellations in the weeks leading up to half-term as the extreme weather saw many holidaymakers postpone their trips to the South West.
In Penzance, the picture was even bleaker, with takings reported to be down by as much as 30 per cent over half-term.