Some 49.9 per cent of the 1,050 owners of B&Bs and small hotels polled by eviivo say they are strongly in favour of the UK leaving the EU, with 37 per cent believing we should absolutely stay, 12 per cent undecided and 1 per cent not caring either way.
When considering only respondents who have made up their mind (916), the percentage for those in favour of leaving goes up to 57 per cent, compared to 43 per cent who would rather stay.
Of those who plan to vote in favour of Brexit, 33 per cent believe leaving the EU will make the UK stronger economically.
Looking at the other side of the argument, 41 per cent are of the opinion that the UK will be in a better shape economically should we actually stay.
Those wanting to leave the EU also believe that it will reduce the amount of red tape for UK businesses (31 per cent), and help to reduce immigration (26 per cent).
In contrast, the remaining ‘Stay’ voters express the wish to instead reform the EU from within (31 per cent), while nearly one in five (18 per cent) confess to fearing the period of uncertainty that would follow leaving the EU would have a direct negative impact on their bottom line.
Eviivo CEO Michele Fitzpatrick says that the fact that both camps cite a strengthened UK economy as their number one reason to explain their voting intentions proves there still is a great deal of confusion around the referendum and that what it will eventually mean for UK businesses remains unclear.
‘What our research also tells us is that Brexit has very much become an emotional debate as opposed to a rational one, which isn’t something you’d expect, nor want, with so much at stake. But it is clear that subjective considerations are now outweighing objective ones.’
The ‘Leave’ campaign currently wins by a wider margin in urban (51 per cent) and seaside (56 per cent) areas, and when breaking down the survey results by property type, small hoteliers (61 per cent) and pub or inn owners (56 per cent) are the more strongly inclined to leave the EU, compared to B&B (49 per cent) and self-catering property (49 per cent) owners.
Fitzpatrick adds, ‘Overall, this desire to leave Europe is unexpected, especially when considering that we’re talking about an industry that has seen 81 per cent of its visitors and 64 per cent of its revenue for 2014 come from EU countries.
‘Yet it seems that as far as small business owners are concerned, they’ve had enough and are ready for a change; some will call it a gamble, based on the lack of hard evidence that opting out will make a positive difference to our economy.’