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Staycation surge leaves Brits scrambling for UK holiday spots

30 July 2020, 14:30

Views of Ambleside near Lake Windermere in Cumbria
Views of Ambleside near Lake Windermere in Cumbria. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A surge in UK staycation bookings has left Brits scrambling for holiday spots amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus cases in Europe.

Following the government's decision to make people returning to the UK from Spain self-isolate for 14 days, the idea of escaping for an overseas summer holiday is once again coming under threat.

Just this week, both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned about a second wave of Covid-19 infections across Europe.

However, the bleak outlook for British holidaymakers has inspired many to search a little closer to home for a getaway, with Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove saying the "safest thing of all" is to have a UK break this summer.

On Tuesday, tourism chiefs warned people to get their bookings in for next year swiftly to avoid disappointment, with one operator saying it had just three weekends available for a property during next year’s holiday season.

But with greater demand come greater costs, as firms attempt to recoup some of their lost earnings during the lockdown.

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A couple enjoying the North York Moors National Park in Yorkshire
A couple enjoying the North York Moors National Park in Yorkshire. Picture: PA

And even mountain rescuers are being hit by the surge in demand.

On Wednesday, Keswick Mountain Rescue Team, based in the Lake District, said they are dealing with a "tidal wave" of callouts due to inexperienced climbers and ill-prepared staycationers trying to climb England's highest peaks.

The team said 11 of the 19 incidents it responded to since Friday were "truly avoidable."

Meanwhile, Hoseasons - one of the country’s leading UK holiday agents - has recruited extra telephone staff to cope with the increase in demand, saying next year's bookings were up by a third on previous years.

Following the upsurge of staycation bookings, we spoke with campsite owners, landlords and staycationers to find out what the upcoming holiday season meant for them.

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Lake District, Cumbria

Steve Hardgreaves, who owns a number of pubs and restaurants in the Lakes, said he is looking forward to welcoming more British visitors to the area.

He told LBC News: "The more of us that spend money supporting our own economy, the sooner our economy will get back out of this situation that we all have faced over the last three or four months."

Mr Hardgreaves added: "It's fantastic to see people here again, enjoying themselves, being able to have a drink and go for some food again and we encourage more of these people to come and spend time in our beautiful national park."

Despite being worried about the spread of coronavirus, he said the country cannot "stand still" and so he is taking precautionary measures to help his businesses "move forward."

Siobhan Lamb, who works at Burns Farm Caravan and Campsite in Keswick, told LBC News their computer was struggling to handle the "massive increase" in bookings after receiving more than 400 email enquiries a day.

North York Moors, North Yorkshire

Wendy Newham, who owns Dalby Forest Campsite in the Moors, told LBC News she has been inundated with calls since air bridges once again came under threat.

On Thursday, she explained how the site had received a "phenomenal" number of people ringing up for bookings after cancelling trips to places such as France.

She said: "We just can't keep up with the demand with people wanting to come and camp... if we had 10 times the amount of campsite we still wouldn't be able to fit people in.

"It's great for us but it is overwhelming."

One of the visitors to the campsite explained that lockdown uncertainty inspired him and his family to book a UK holiday.

William Halford told LBC News: "Because of the uncertainty in the middle of lockdown it didn't look like anyone was going abroad at all this summer so when we thought about what we were going to do with our time off, the obvious choice was to do it in the UK because it could be done at short notice and there would be very little financial penalty if it didn't work out."

Sussex Weald

Amanda Norman, who owns Dernwood Farm Campsite in Heathfield, East Sussex, told LBC News business over the last few weeks has been "fantastic" after reopening at the beginning of July.

She said: "It's been unprecedented. We are as busy in mid-week now as we normally are for a busy summer weekend, so it's great that people are allowed to get out and about and this is the perfect holiday for people coming out of lockdown.

Ms Norman explained how she has had to put an out of office message on her phone in order to cope with the surge in demand.

"Mid-week, we would normally expect to be half-full, but we are pretty much at capacity every day now so it's a massive increase in our bookings."

A staycationer named Andrew who was visiting the site from Sutton in south London, told LBC News he had chosen to visit the campsite after cancelling a holiday in Spain.

He said that although his children were disappointed in not flying to the continent, they were nonetheless having a fantastic time in East Sussex.

Additional reporting by Vicki Smith and Emily Hulme.

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