God save the British staycation

By Georgina Procter, Property

We know that summer is drawing to an end as sunsets creep in earlier, and an autumnal chill takes you by surprise having dressed for the weather you want rather than the weather you have. So, as we come to terms with the fact that Christmas is only 14 weeks away, it only seems right to reminisce about our recent summer getaways. 

During the early weeks of lockdown, there was an ongoing theme of where we would rather be, lottery win permitting, and destinations and activities such as kitesurfing in Tarifa or enjoying cocktails in the Maldives were repeated choices in my household. However, despite an ease of lockdown and a return to some international travel, general uncertainty and near-overnight quarantines for countries has meant that destinations like these remained in the land of daydreams for many of us. Instead, we turned to the Great British Isles. Holidaymakers wanted to get away but needed the comfort of knowing that they could socially distance, travel safely, and enjoy time with family and friends. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that rural destinations, in fact leveraged their remoteness and peaceful surroundings as a major selling point for a covid-proof holiday. Despite being bowled over by pandemic in the early months, it seemed the British tourism industry came back fighting as lockdown eased and the number of staycationers rose. 

I, too, swapped the Mediterranean for a trip down the M4 – having been a British citizen for all my 25 years, I took my first trip to Wales and specifically, the Gower Peninsula. After scrambling to find a campsite that had space, it became apparent we weren’t the only ones who saw the pandemic as an opportunity to enjoy our more immediate surroundings. National Trust car parks were full by 9am and queues for coffee, ice cream and fish and chips formed socially distanced snakes out of the door. It may not have been the trip I planned at the start of the year, but taking a dip in the sea with a backdrop of wild horses mingling with sheep on the cliffs above is definitely an experience you wouldn’t have on the Costa del Sol. 

However, and I write this reluctantly, summer is over (today’s heat an aboration). While domestic tourism may have made hay while the sun quite literally shone, we need to remember that the industry and local communities in now beloved destinations are still very much weathering the storm. In July, a VisitBritain survey showed that only 33 per cent of Britons said they wanted to take an overnight trip in the UK. When the threat of quarantines meant holidays abroad were off the cards for many of us, destinations and beauty spots in Wales, Cornwall, Devon and beyond were there for us all. I hope we can all remember this when, and if, we can go back to planning our holidays without the consideration of quarantine. There is so much to be discovered right under our noses and the time is coming when it will be our turn to be there for it.

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