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Swapping the Costa Del Sol for the Cotswolds and Campsites!

By Robbie Hubbard, Hottinger & Co. 

For many of us in the UK this year, the term staycation has been a common theme, and this may well be the case for some time yet, especially going into 2021. Over the summer, the uncertainty from the Coronavirus pandemic meant that families opted for domestic trips over international breaks. There has therefore been a surge in UK holidays and bookings have already hit record highs, with cottages and campsites becoming a very popular choice.

Having recently returned from a trip to the coast and the Cotswolds, it was very apparent that our seaside towns and rural retreats appear able to shake the disease and life felt almost normal again, even for a brief while. It was a welcome break during such unprecedented times and an opportunity to appreciate the stunning shores and scenery on our very own doorstep, which is often overlooked in search of warmer climates.

In June, following Boris Johnson’s announcement to lift some lockdown restrictions on self-contained accommodation, many travel sites experienced record bookings; Hoseasons was reporting one booking every 11 seconds![i] With a vaccine still over the horizon, it is unlikely that holidays will return to normal next year, however, the UK’s tourism industry is much less dependent on international travellers than sunnier destinations. Even before the crisis, domestic travellers accounted for 81% of tourism in Britain compared to 53% in Spain and just 30% in Greece[ii].

Britain is one of a handful of European countries to have a tourism spending deficit which amounts to approximately €18.3bn[iii]. In other words, foreign visitors spend less on tourism in the UK than Britons spend abroad and staycation holiday substitutions could result in a much-needed boost to the sector. Statistics from Parkdean Resorts suggest that Britons spend £48bn on summer holidays each year, so with more holidaymakers staying within our shores  £8.24bn extra income for UK tourism could be produced, which equates to £900 per person.[iv] This will also likely largely be felt in the more local and vulnerable parts of the UK economy . Capital Economics write that if the entire £60bn that Britons usually spend on overseas holidays was to be spent onshore then GDP would receive a boost of 2.8% in 2020, offsetting the 1.3% lost from overseas visitors.

There is also evidence that tourism revenues are flooding away from cities to rural and less wealthy areas. The 2020 Staycation Market Report issued by Parkdean Resorts shows popular destinations such as Devon and Cornwall recording bookings up 86% and 33% respectively and the Isle of White up 40%. As a result, many key local destinations are extending their seasons in order to accommodate those looking to take late breaks. For example, Blackpool’s illuminations will be lighting up the seafront until January, and many campsites and holiday homes have extended the season by 4-6 weeks.v  Many Britons that are staying in the UK for their holidays for the first time in many years seem to be using the opportunity to revisit childhood memories of holidays past, returning to coastal towns and areas of natural beauty. On the other hand, the first port of call for foreign tourists tends to be city-based, namely London, Edinburgh, York, and the university towns of Oxford and Cambridge. Research provided by Springboard shows footfall in coastal towns was only down 24.4% in August compared to a year earlier whereas central London was down 64% over the same period and regional cities a slowdown of over 50%[v].

A sense of optimism shines over the UK’s tourism industry during a frankly bleak and unpredictable time. With trips abroad still remaining uncertain, Britons are instead staying closer to home, giving our economy a much-needed boost. Campsites and holiday parks are already seeing soaring bookings for next year, as families look to make the most of the summer holidays in 2021 and make up for lost time. Make no mistake, the statistics suggest domestic spending on holidays and day trips will still fall by half in 2020, down from the £91.6bn spent in 2019v, but tourist boards across the country will be looking to tempt the UK consumer into a well-earned staycation in 2021.


[i] https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/uk-holidays/staycation-booking-statistics-england-2020-a4479766.html

[ii] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/04/30/britain-set-staycation-boom/

[iii] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/04/30/britain-set-staycation-boom/

[iv] https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/1310111/uk-holidays-staycation-holiday-in-UK-destinations-devon-cornwall-isle-of-wight

[v] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/sep/05/uk-tourism-hotspots-extend-their-holiday-season-to-lure-more-visitors






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