The British staycation has received a revival this summer, boosted by better weather and interest in UK heritage sites popularised on screen in a new phenomenon dubbed “set-jetting”.
As many Britons jet off on foreign holidays this weekend, the Association of British Travel Agents said the UK’s best July weather for years combined with a relatively expensive euro has boosted last-minute domestic bookings, with tour operators reporting strong demand for breaks in the UK. Holidaymakers are heading to the Channel Islands, Lake District and the traditional seaside resorts such as Blackpool, Bournemouth and Brighton, it said.
Mark Tanzer, Abta’s chief executive, said: “This weekend sees the start of the main summer holiday getaway and it’s one of the busiest of the year. The recent amazing weather at home has also given a great boost to domestic tourism and many Abta members are reporting a surge in last-minute bookings for holidays throughout the UK. ”
Family bookings on the UK’s camping and caravan sites – which were a washout during the poor weather – are up a healthy 58% on the same time last year. And a survey by national tourism board VisitEngland has revealed that 40% of tourists booking summer holidays in the UK say it is because they want to visit English locations they have seen on the big and small screen.
Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, where ITV’s Broadchurch was filmed, has seen tourists flock to the small coastal resort after the crime drama’s success, with a further influx expected this summer. In Norwich a new Alan Partridge tour – launched to celebrate the release of the film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – is the latest in a series of new film-related tourism experience.
VisitEngland’s chief executive, James Berresford, said: “We know there is a huge appetite for ‘set-jetting’ … I have no doubt that Alan Partridge will help drive visitors to the city, becoming to Norwich what Harry Potter is to Alnwick Castle and Lady Mary is to Highclere Castle, albeit in slacks and driving gloves.”
VisitEngland said the UK’s seaside towns and resorts have all seen a boost in visitor numbers since the beginning of July. In Cornwall, Bude tourist information centre in Cornwall reported a 17% year-on-year increase in visitors for the first week of July. Its spokesman, Malcolm Bell, said: “The recent good weather has given the tourism industry a massive boost; the positive impact on the visitor experience is invaluable to us. When people are content, they are more likely to feel that they have got value for money, which will encourage them to visit again and spread the good word to their friends and family.”
Away from the coast, inland attractions with water – and boating opportunities – have offered a welcome opportunity for visitors to cool off. In Cambridge, ticket sales for punting are up 320%, while in the capital, Hackney council’s London Fields Lido has seen visit numbers quadruple as a result of the heatwave. Nottingham’s urban beach, the Riviera, has just opened, bringing the beach to the heart of the city with a giant bathing pool, sandy beach, seaside rides and a beach bar.
And the recent thunderstorms in some parts of the country have not dampened the spirits of campers. The Camping and Caravanning Club – whose members suffered from washout weather last summer and this Easter – reported a large increase in the number of families planning a UK holiday outdoors this summer. Family bookings on campsites and caravan sites are 58% up for August compared with the same time last year.
Robert Louden, director general of the Camping and Caravanning Club, said: “Camping and caravanning continues to be en vogue, with the recent good weather bringing holidaymakers out in their thousands. Despite the camping and caravanning boom, there are pitches still available, giving everyone the chance to explore the great outdoors this summer.”