In Brief

Can an extended holiday season save the UK tourism industry?

Travel and hospitality bosses hope to capitalise on post-lockdown sales boom

UK tourism bosses are extending this year’s summer holiday season in a bid to capitalise on the staycation trend and recover much-needed revenues. 

The travel and hospitality sectors have been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown and loss of custom from overseas visitors, with a recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) warning that the UK economy is set to lose £22bn as a result. And nearly three million UK tourism jobs are at risk in a “worst case” scenario, according to the report.

WTTC president Gloria Guevara said the pandemic was causing “economic pain and suffering” to millions of households “who are dependent upon travel and tourism for their livelihoods”. 

The tourism sector “could take years to recover”, she added, and the crisis could also “threaten London’s position as one of the world’s premier hubs for business and leisure travel”.

Late-season sales boom

Tourism hotspots across the country “are extending the domestic season through autumn”, The Guardian reports. 

Haven will keep 16 of its holiday parks open for an additional four weeks, until the end of November, while Blackpool’s illuminations will remain lit up until January, two months longer than usual.  

British seaside destinations have recovered “at a faster pace than elsewhere across the country after the lifting of lockdown, potentially benefiting local economies that have struggled more than big cities in recent years”, says the newspaper.

And Haven’s guest and proposition director Gerard Tempes says the holiday parks chain is also seeing a late-season sales boom, as fed-up Brits looking to take a break despite disruptions to foreign travel turn to options nearer home.

Tempes said: “We’re seeing a bigger proportion of people who are new to us, people are going, ‘Actually, should I try out a staycation where I would normally go abroad?’”

Consultancy firm Capital Economics  has estimated that if “all of the £60bn that Britons usually spend on overseas holidays is ploughed into domestic holidays instead”, the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) could be boosted by 2.8 percentage points this year, The Guardian reports.

However, national tourism board VisitBritain predicts that despite the season extension, domestic spending on day trips and holidays will still plunge from £91.6bn in 2019 to a yearly total for 2020 of £46.8bn.

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