Coronavirus may have cut short any international holiday plans you had this summer, but that still leaves the UK and, with Boris Johnson announcing a three-phase plan to come out of lockdown by July, we’re crossing our fingers we’ll be sunning ourselves on a Brit beach asap.
A slight ease on restrictions means you can now drive anywhere in the UK to outside public spaces, but you can’t yet holiday there over night. However the government’s new plan suggests that, providing there isn’t a second spike and subsequent lockdown, we should in theory be able to enjoy a staycation as early as July.
This is in line with predictions from the World Travel & Tourism Council which says tourism is likely to return to domestic markets first, followed later by trips to neighbouring countries. Bonjour, France.
What do the travel industry experts say?
Visit England's acting CEO Patricia Yates told Cosmopolitan, "While for now we must continue to stay home and enjoy our travelling online, we are working across the industry and with the UK Government to ensure that tourism is able to recover as quickly as possible once restrictions are lifted."
So, if restrictions lift in July as expected and tourism does recover quickly, will there be a boom in bookings?
April Hutchinson, editor of TTG Luxury, a magazine for the travel industry, says, "Once the UK is fully open for business from a tourism perspective (we’re assuming July), it’s inevitable people will rush to boutique hotels, seaside boltholes and glamping sites in droves, keen for the change of scene, any scene, beyond their four walls.
"People will look for spaces to go to feel happy and safe: even though they have been in isolation, they might not rush to be in busy built-up spaces for a while."
Online travel booking sites such as Canopy & Star, which sells quirky outdoor getaways in the UK and Europe, confirms the trend, reporting an increase in optimism among travellers.
Spokesperson Emily Enright says, "In the last week we have seen a significant rise in people searching for UK breaks. The more popular months for forward bookings are July and August, which are up 20 per cent and we’re expecting a further increase.”
And where are the most popular locations? According to Enright, Cornwall, Scotland, Wales, Devon and Yorkshire come top of the most-searched-for list.
But is it safe to holiday in the UK?
With Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently sticking with the Stay Home message and lockdown still very much in place for most people, it’s understandable to feel anxious about a staycation.
With this in mind, many hotels and self-catering escapes are acting now to put measures in place to instill confidence once the country opens up again.
Accommodation site Sawdays is introducing a Clean & Safe Charter, which rental property owners sign up to committing them to take additional measures covering all government guidelines, such as social distancing and extra cleaning.
And Landal Gwel an Mor, a five-star resort in Cornwall, is introducing serious health measures to keep its guests safe when it reopens, including lodges being sanitised with a misting technique developed for hospital operating theatres which kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. Meanwhile, Canopy & Stars has introduced a collection of self-check-in properties so guests are guaranteed no contact at check-in or during their stay. Total. Isolation.
What does the government advice say about UK holidays right now?
According to the extensive coronavirus road map the government released yesterday [11 May], English residents are currently allowed to drive to beauty spots or further afield for exercise, but not to stay overnight. So right now, UK holidays are a no go. But travel experts seem optimistic that that doesn't mean they're off the cards for the whole summer - if the lockdown continues to ease, maybe you'll be sat on a beach with an ice-cream in no time.
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