In 2020 we discovered that a tiny virus could inhibit our daily lives but in true stiff-up-lip British fashion we carried on and kept calm! By summer, lockdown was over and holidays were booked – Spain and France being amongst the most popular destinations – but winter came round and carried with it a sting that has carried us into 2021. The first quarter of 2021 has seen lockdown, shops closed and the hospitality industry struggling to survive but as restrictions start to ease people are looking ahead to booking their summer holiday once again.
Until mid-April even booking a self-catering holiday in England was forbidden. Any foreign travel, except for business or emergency, is banned until at least May 17th under the government’s road map for reopening. It has been stated that for foreign travel to continue this summer the British government will grade countries on a “traffic light” system with “Green” countries being those that are deemed safe and no quarantine or self-isolation will be required on return.
But countries listed as “Amber” or “Red” will require either Government imposed hotel quarantine, for “Red”, at the traveller’s expense, or a series of negative Covid tests in the week after return for countries listed as “Amber”, again at the traveller’s expense. As yet an updated list of countries within each category has not been published and British holidaymakers, who have traditionally booked their foreign holiday by now, are starting to get anxious. As a result many are looking to stay much closer to home.
Two things have become evident recently. The first is that people are resigned to not going abroad this summer and have, instead, booked a holiday within the British Isles – a Staycation as it is becoming known. The second is that airlines are reporting an increase in foreign bookings for later in the year, notably September and October, obviously with the hope that all restrictions will have been eased by then. Favourite locations like Greece and Spain are still proving popular and should still be pretty warm by that time.
The staycation is broken down into several areas with self catering holidays, often on the coast, probably being the largest followed by short hotel stays in scenic areas or places of interest and then weekend city breaks, normally in hotels. This year in particular the domestic holiday market is going to be massively important to the hospitality industry, whether it be small pubs and restaurants or city centre hotels.
Most families while on holiday, even self-catering, will eat out at least two to three times a week, but will also stop for an ice cream, a cream tea or a pint at the pub. For hotels in popular tourist hotspots such as Bath or the Scottish Highlands, who have seen a dramatic fall in foreign visitors, it may not be the summer they would hope for but as some hoteliers have already said,”At least we have the staycation market”.
On the South coast of England hospitality managers are already gearing up for a busy summer and have started recruiting seasonal staff, a move that might be considered risky but at the moment, with the pubs having just reopened, confidence is high. We can only hope that the great British Weather doesn’t let everyone down!
After the events of the past 14 months we desperately need people to be moving again this summer and, hopefully, spending plenty of money within the hospitality industry both at home and abroad.