The chaos of travel and the cost of living is forcing Britons to rest at home

Air travel chaos and cost-of-living concerns have fueled a surge in British domestic summer holiday bookings, giving hope to a sector struggling with financial difficulties and a deteriorating economic outlook.

British travel companies feared 2022 would end the summer holiday boom in the first two years of the pandemic, when onerous travel restrictions and fears of infection COVID-19 discourages vacationers from international travel.

But inquiries and late bookings for domestic summer holidays have skyrocketed since early June after flight cancellations caused major travel disruptions during school holidays and warmer weather swept across the country.

Last-minute bookings for summer holiday accommodation from Sykes Holiday Cottages, one of the UK’s leading rental agencies, were up 22% in early June compared to the same period last year.

Just under 40% of Britons said they were more likely to choose a domestic holiday than travel abroad than they were before the pandemic, according to surveys conducted in mid-June and released on Friday by British tourism board VisitBritain.

Of those who opted for a holiday, 65% told VisitBritain it was because a UK holiday was easier to plan, 54% said they wanted to avoid long queues at airports and the risk of flight cancellations, and 47% said it was was associated with holidays in the UK. were more accessible.

“Whether families think they can afford a summer vacation abroad, or their flights have been canceled, or being able to sit with four kids for 12 hours at the airport just put them off, many are opting to stay at home.” Said Sir David Michels, president of the Travel Alliance, a lobbying group. “This is a net positive for the UK tourism industry.”

Michels said he did not expect domestic holiday demand this summer to exceed summer 2021 levels, but it is possible that demand levels could repeat last year.

He added that the depreciation of the pound this year “definitely won’t hurt” the domestic market, as it “scars some people away” from traveling abroad. The currency has fallen 9.3% against the dollar and 2.2% against the euro since the beginning of 2022.

Cottage bookings at Awaze, a holiday rental company, were unchanged for June from 2021 and up 21% from 2019, while bookings for August this year were 6% higher than in the same month last year, and 46% more than in 2019. July was slightly below 2021 levels.

Graeme Donoghue, chief executive of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said the UK “continues to ride the holiday wave despite the return of overseas travel”.

“Uncertainty around Covid restrictions appears to have been replaced by another concern — the disruption to travel abroad — while increased pressure on household budgets has many turning to vacation as a better option,” Donoghue explained.

On Thursday, British Airways check-in staff voted to strike later in the summer due to an overpayment, which set the stage for even more air travel disruption.

Travelers queue for security checks at London Heathrow Airport on Wednesday.
Long delays at the airport have increased the attractiveness of British hotels © Frank Augstein / AP

Henrik Kjellberg, chief executive of Awaze, said the travel chaos has “benefited” the domestic travel market as vacationers sought to “avoid the stress and hassle” of crowded airports.

He said people have “experienced the pleasures of vacation” during the pandemic and they are “here to stay,” adding that the pandemic’s travel restrictions are combined with a “gradual tendency for people to think more and more about their CO₂ emissions.” to encourage more families to consider spending holidays locally.

Meanwhile, according to Kate Nicholls, members of trade organization UKHospitality reported a 20-30 per cent increase in platinum anniversary inquiries in early June from customers looking for a late summer vacation or school holidays in October. Executive Director.

Nicholls said extending the stationary boom period would be a lifeline for independent businesses that have been hardest hit by cost pressures from supply chain problems and the war in Ukraine.

“British holidaymakers tend to go for the less obvious options,” Nicholls said. “There is a proportion of customers who will always choose brands, but there is also a proportion of local visitors who are much more confident to go off the beaten path and look for independent boutiques looking for options.”

Domestic tourism success has become more significant as inbound tourism is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025.

The challenge for the industry now is to convince British holidaymakers to keep visiting next summer. “If the sun continues to shine, I think there will be a lot more residents in the UK than in the pre-pandemic summer,” Michels said. “For three years now, many people have been resting at home. I don’t think it will go away.”

“The longer this trend continues, the more sustainable these habits become and the more beneficial they will be for communities across the country,” Nicholls said.