UK hotels, bed and breakfasts and holiday parks have seen a 20-30% increase in inquiries following mid-term travel chaos as families think twice before heading abroad stranger this summer.
Businesses said an increase in last-minute bookings provided a much-needed boost as sales plummeted after the boom in 2020 and 2021, thanks to the removal of restrictions on overseas travel.
The cost of living crisis has also dampened plans for family vacations this summer, with many bookings delayed due to concerns over money available to spend.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality which represents thousands of accommodation providers, said bookings have generally been down over the past two years as overseas travel picks up.
But she said there had been an increase in inquiries for the late summer and October semester, particularly city breaks and rural and coastal areas, after airlines were forced to cancel flights.
“We don’t know if this was a direct response to the travel chaos and the difficulty of traveling overseas or the squeezing of the cost of living or people realizing how bad the UK is is good after the platinum jubilee,” she said, adding that as well as strong domestic bookings, international visitors are also returning.
Nicholls said the trend of last-minute bookings, seen in recent years due to Covid concerns, has continued, but businesses are being held back by staff shortages, with hoteliers closing rooms due to too few cleaners or kitchen staff to maintain them.
Paul Hardingham, managing director of holiday park operator Landal GreenParks UK, which has a range of sites across the UK including Cornwall, Scotland, the Peak District and Yorkshire, revealed a pattern similar. He said bookings were up 20% from pre-pandemic levels in June with strong demand for last-minute breaks, but overall summer bookings were currently down from last year.
“We expect high bookings for the summer with stays sold out at the last minute, with same day and next day bookings at an all time high this year. We have seen around 20% of all bookings for arrivals in the next seven days and almost 30% for the next 14 days,” he said.
Online camping site Pitch Up said its UK bookings were just over double what it had seen before the pandemic, with traditional sites doing better than glamping, which surged when destinations further afield -sea were prohibited.
Dan Yates, the founder, said: ‘The disruption to overseas travel has certainly helped push more holidaymakers to opt for a UK holiday this year as people value certainty and peace of mind. after the pandemic.
“The rising cost of living is also a major driver of the increase, with many opting for a camping or glamping trip close to home rather than an expensive flight abroad to help their household budget. stretch more.”
However, the group said bookings were down slightly from this time last year, when families had fewer vacation options.
Sally Mynard, co-owner of Alpine Park Cottages near Sidmouth in Devon, said the company saw a 7% increase in bookings over the half of the quarter following news of the airport chaos.
But she said: “We are still down from pre-Covid levels. We have had the worst start to the season in 10 years in terms of advance bookings which are down 20%.”
She said bookings for school holidays were particularly low as some families ran out of money and others used vouchers for overseas trips that had been delayed due to the pandemic.
“People leave it late and see the money they have,” she said. “Because of the price of gas, people are wondering how much it will cost to come here and if they can afford to do things when they get there.”
Motorhome rental group Indie Campers said 39% more Britons were booking one of its vehicles in the UK this year with a slight increase in the length of trip they were booking.
A spokesperson said: ‘We are already seeing a shift as people reflect on the potential chaos of the summer school holidays and book their family getaways in advance with peak demand in August.’
Visit Cornwall said businesses had a strong start to the year as they were able to trade between January and March for the first time in several years. However, May and June had been “sluggish”.
A spokesperson said bookings were at the same level as pre-pandemic levels, but down from the past two ‘stay boom years’ for late spring and summer and which some businesses had seen cancellations.