It’s certainly not thanks to the weather, if this summer is anything to go by, but more Briton’s than ever have chosen to staycation this year and visit parts of the UK for their holidays. Whether it was thanks to the Olympics, the Jubilee or the effects of the recession we are all feeling, Britain’s have been saying no to travel abroad this year in greater numbers than ever before.
While we’ve had the Olympics and related celebrations this year we have also had one of the wettest, dreariest and downright miserable summers in living memory. As a result we’ve seen a rise in search between August and September for people booking last minute deals abroad to get a little sunshine. Travel agents are reporting last minute booking increases of up to 25% with Greece proving a particularly popular destination. This amounts to the first yearly increase in visitors to Europe since the recession first hit but still comparative figures from Visit Britain show that nearly 40% of us are passing over our usual trips abroad in favour of staying at home. This is incredibly significant for the British tourism industry and a favourable sign that, despite a dismal summer, the tourist industry remains relatively buoyant.
There seem to be a number of factors that are maintaining the trend in staycations and they aren’t just because of this year’s special events. The Olympics caused a lot of people to postpone their holidays or to stay at home to watch the events but the real locus of this remained in London. The real influences for many seem still to be the effects of the recession. Whatever our particular views are on the recession and its real effects one thing is absolutely certain; is has changed our attitudes to money and made us all more budget conscious. Particularly amongst younger and older generations we have seen a steady increase in internal holidays rather than more expensive trips abroad.
There is a perception, that isn’t always well founded, that holidays in the UK are cheaper than travel abroad; you don’t have to pay for flights, day to day expenses are lower and there are more options for different budgets; from cottages and bed and breakfasts to camping and caravanning. People also are looking to shorter breaks which are further bringing down travel costs for people who are more reluctant to spend £1,000 or more on a trip abroad. Staying in the UK will typically save people a little but some destinations remain more expensive like Cornwall or the Lake District. Places like Devon, Wales and the middle counties remain cheaper destinations throughout the year though and there really is a lot on offer for the stay at home tourist.
We have some spectacular counties, cities and countryside to explore and if the weather is nice beaches to rival anything you can find in Europe. Staying in the UK gives you a chance to get some of the best accommodation deals to great destinations; whether you want to explore the moors of Devon, the Highlands of Scotland or incredible cities like London. The rise of the staycation may be a result of the recession but it certainly still manages to offer incredible holiday opportunities.
What remains to be seen is how long this will last. The flipside to this boost to domestic tourism is that we have been seeing fewer visitors from abroad than usual; which seem to have been exacerbated by the Olympics rather than improved. At the same time the government debates the need for a tourist minister and cuts tourism budgets for the UK. It’s great that more of us are staying in this beautiful country for our holidays but we need to be mindful of the future of UK tourism.