As the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic forces continued restrictions on international travel, British holidaymakers are abandoning the prospect of heading abroad and are opting instead for a UK staycation, with Britain enjoying some of its hottest temperatures of the year in August.
The warm temperatures have seen tourists flocking to coastal settings, with the south coast city of Portsmouth one of the areas enjoying increased footfall. Local hospitality businesses including Becketts, the Queens Hotel, Portsmouth Marriott and Travelodge, have all reporting an increase in demand as summer temperatures have taken hold in the UK.
Becketts, based on Bellevue Terrace in Southsea, reopened its six-bedroom hotel this week after being forced to close from the end of March, and its first weekend since reopening has seen the hotel fully booked.
General manager Terence Carvalho paid tribute to the Becketts staff for their efforts ahead of the reopening, including helping implement new safety procedures to ensure it is safe for guests.
Carvalho told Portsmouth’s The News: “The team has coped so well, and we couldn’t have got this far without them.
“We've had lots of new returning customers due to the safety measures we've put in place.”
The measures include a revamped cleaning system with one cleaner taking charge of all six rooms, as well providing personal protective equipment to minimise contact between guests and staff.
Despite operations being different from the pre-pandemic, Becketts is hoping for a successful summer season, with Portsmouth becoming something of a demand hotspot in the domestic tourism boom.
Indeed, Becketts assistant manager Kealan Blenkinsop said that there had already been a significant uptake in bookings.
Blenkinsop said: “We’ve found that people are booking to stay with us for a few days and using Portsmouth and Southsea as a holiday destination as it has so much to offer.
“We hope that this trend is something we see more of as things begin to open back up because tourism is such a big part of Portsmouth.”
Figures from the annual Travelodge holiday index also made for positive reading for the city, as the survey indicated that 55 per cent of adults surveyed intend on taking a summer holiday, with a staggering 80 per cent saying that they plan to holiday at home.
The index suggests that holidaymakers on average are spending £797.54 on their summer holiday this year, equating to a boost of £24 billion for the UK economy thanks to Brits opting for the staycation rather than a holiday abroad.
The Travelodge research also shows that 42 per cent of holidaymakers will be taking more short breaks in the UK this year, since they are not intending to travel abroad because of the ongoing pandemic. Moreover, 44 per cent of respondents suggested that they would be looking to enjoy a holiday at a seaside resort in the UK.
Portsmouth’s Travelodge has itself enjoyed an upsurge in business since the hospitality sector reopened, with many holidaymakers cashing in on its limited time offer of one million rooms priced at £28.99 or under across its 573 hotels across the UK.
Meanwhile, both the Queens Hotel and the Portsmouth Marriott have seen business boom as families have snapped up vacancies to explore Portsmouth and other nearby attractions.
Encouraging more British holidaymakers to visit the city, Portsmouth City Council’s tourism chief, Steve Pitt, said: “Portsmouth is a unique city to visit for those looking to get away in the UK this year.
“Tourism provides a valuable boost to the local economy and has a positive impact on businesses across the city.”
And it seems that Pitt’s called will not go ignored if research from building society Nationwide is to be believed.
Its figures suggest that the UK will be the largest beneficiary of holiday-related consumer spending in 2020, with 32 per cent of people surveyed saying that they planned to go on a UK staycation, while a further 14 per cent indicated that they preferred UK-based day trips with family and friends.
Nationwide estimates that those choosing to remain in the UK for their breaks are likely to spend £480 on things such as travel, meals, entertainment, essentials, and accommodation, on average.
The building society’s head of payments, Mark Nalder, said: “Although it’s clear that there remains some trepidation about taking a holiday this year, our data clearly shows that a large number of people are ready to escape their homes to enjoy a change of scenery. And, even though it’s a month on from the opening of the air bridges, Brits are choosing to stay at home to explore what’s on their own doorstep.”