Campsites across Cornwall are fully booked up until the end of September as Britons head for a staycation with tens of thousands of foreign holidays on hold amid fears over a second wave of coronavirus.
Not a single pitch, campervan space or lodge at any of the top 20 campsites in the county are available for a week’s stay for two adults from tomorrow, as people flock to the South West of England to enjoy a summer break.
MailOnline surveyed the 20 best campsites in Cornwall according to campsites.co.uk and found the likes of Little Trevothan Camping & Caravan Park in Helston and Polruan Holidays in Fowey are full until the end of August.
Others such as Trethem Mill Touring Park in Truro are fully booked until the end of September – but are having to run at reduced capacity of about 50 per cent to ensure they follow social distancing requirements.
Further sites in the likes of Newquay, St Austell, Par, Looe, St Columb Major, Padstow, Whitecross, Mevagissey, Redruth, Bude, Perranporth, Camelford, Marazion and Bude are also fully booked for at least the next week.
It comes as parks and campsites across Britain seen a boom in bookings as Britons give up on planning trips abroad, with Haven, Butlin’s, Center Parcs and Hoseasons being inundated – and cottage bookings swept up.
Foreign summer holidays are now looking increasingly risky after the Government’s last-minute announcement on Sunday that those travelling from Spain now need to self-isolate for 14 days following a spike in cases.
And sunseekers are set to make the most of the warm temperatures in the UK, with Britain set to bask in a mini-heatwave amid 84F (29C) highs today before a 95F (35C) scorcher tomorrow on the hottest day of the year so far.
Tourists enjoy the beach at Polzeath in Cornwall today amid a surge in visitors to the South West of England
Surfers head into the sea at Polzeath in Cornwall today as Britons make the most of the warm weather and go on staycations
An ice cream van is pictured on the beach at Polzeath in Cornwall today as the South West is swamped by visitors
Sunbathers and holidaymakers flock to the beach at the seaside resort of Lyme Regis in Dorset on a hot day today
Lyme Regis in Dorset is busy today with sunseekers, many of whom have gone on summer staycations to the area
Meanwhile officials in St Ives, famed for its narrow streets, have introduced a ‘keep to the left’ policy in an attempt to ensure everyone can keep to the one-metre plus distance currently advised amid soaring visitor numbers.
Car parks in the area are reaching capacity, and people are packing on to the town’s popular beach and into cafes surrounding it. Guests have been advised to wear a facemask and to avoid cramming into smaller shops.
Staycation beauty spots are being ‘blighted by vandals and litter’
By Alan Shields, Sarah Ward and Ellie Forbes for the Scottish Daily Mail
Beauty spots are being blighted by litter louts and vandals, politicians have warned.
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser is calling for a police crackdown on the problems as people flock to the countryside. The most recent incidents have seen yobs damage trees, vandalise ancient ruins and leave tons of rubbish behind.
One of the most iconic sites affected in recent weeks was the recently restored sign at John o’ Groats, which was snapped off by visitors swinging on it.
Mr Fraser, 54, a keen wild camper, said he ensures that he leaves no trace of his stays on Munro-bagging trips.
Writing in The Scotsman, he said: ‘With the closure of many official campsites due to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on overseas travel, it is perhaps no surprise we have seen a surge in this activity in recent weeks.
‘But that is no excuse for some of the behaviour we are witnessing. There is no one simple solution to this problem. It will require agencies to work together to identify offenders and hold them accountable.’
Among incidents at heritage sites during lockdown, six people have been caught carrying out illegal metal detecting, and a report was made of somebody digging at the Callanish Standing Stones on Lewis.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said no serious damage was done but archaeology could have been disturbed. It also said it was ‘horrified’ the Castlelaw Hill Iron Age fort near Penicuik, Midlothian, had been used as a toilet.
Meanwhile, a petition is calling for a ‘congestion charge’ for camper vans on the 516-mile North Coast 500 route. In a matter of days, more than 3,700 people joined a Facebook group documenting problems. Local MP Jamie Stone said: ‘The Scottish Government need to know the full force of our concerns.’
The North Highland Initiative developed the route five years ago. Chairman David Whiteford said: ‘NHI will continue working to help deliver a responsible balance between economic recovery and public safety.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Ministers are aware of a number of incidents of littering, anti-social behaviour and damage to our natural environment and are clear this behaviour is completely unacceptable and disrespectful to local communities.’
He added that on-the-spot fines could be issued for littering and anti-social behaviour such as vandalism, urinating and public drunkenness.
Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, admitted earlier this week that some locals were still ‘nervous’ about the sudden rush of tourists, but said on the whole ‘everyone is sticking to social distancing rules’.
He told the Daily Mail: ‘Generally everybody is quite happy. For local people it obviously feels a lot busier but by and large everyone is sticking to the distancing rules.
‘Some of the historic towns like St Ives and Padstow have been close to capacity with people walking the streets. So again we’re reminding people to consider going to other places and to be mindful that they do get busy.
‘We have put into place a one way system and it’s sort of adhered to but I’m afraid people can be a bit forgetful on holiday. I think for some of the locals even two metres, it’s only six foot, so even if you’re compliant with that distancing it can feel quite busy.
‘So what we would say to people of a more nervous disposition is think about that and be prepared to go somewhere a little bit quieter – there will be times when it does feel a little busy.
‘There is still nervousness from locals. There’s still that shock. Places like St Ives in the winter they’re a ghost town. I think by and large locals do feel that people are doing their best to stick by the rules and they know that we need it for the thousands of jobs.
‘So for the vast majority it’s probably best summed up that we need the tourism so we’re going to have to accept it. In an ideal world they would prefer to have Cornwall to themselves. There are still some who are very nervous.’
The collapse in foreign holidays has presented an massive opportunity for UK tourism by boosting the demand for staycations, after hotels, campsites and restaurants were allowed to reopen from lockdown on July 4.
Business is now booming, and the Government’s announcement on Sunday that those travelling from Spain now need to self-isolate for 14 days following a spike in cases has further boosted prospects.
With the threat of other countries joining the list as cases rise across Europe, many are considering staycations in Britain rather than risk having to self-isolate for two weeks, particularly those who cannot work from home.
Jane Pendlebury, executive director of hotel industry association the Hospitality Professionals Association, told AFP: ‘A UK staycation…carries much less disruptive risk,’
‘Of course, the threat of regional outbreaks is real, but the restrictions imposed won’t be as impactful – with returning home from within the UK far easier than doing so from abroad.
‘Whilst we can’t necessarily offer the same weather as the Balearics or the Canaries, what we can do is offer exceptional hospitality – albeit with necessary precautions in place,’ she added.
Tour operator TUI has taken the blanket decision to cancel all its planned holidays to mainland Spain until August 9. Meanwhile, British campsites and holiday home operators have enjoyed a surge in bookings.
Graham Donoghue, chief executive of Sykes Cottages, told the BBC: ‘News of Spain’s travel restrictions at the weekend resulted in a 53 percent year-on-year rise in bookings. We’re also seeing a steady stream of bookings for holidays in 2021 too.’
The Whitbread group, which owns the Premier Inn hotel chain, said it had seen strong demand in summer bookings for hotel rooms in tourist hotspots since the beginning of July.
Surfers and holiday makers pack into the waters on the beach at Polzeath in Cornwall yesterday as temperatures start to rise
The Waterside Holiday Park in Paignton, Devon, pictured yesterday, is among the sites which are experiencing high demand
Motorhomes on a busy stretch of coastline at Leysdown on the Isle Of Sheppey in Kent yesterday afternoon
Children, their parents and grandparents play in the sunshine at Elmhurst Caravan Park on the Isle of Sheppey yesterday
Tourists are pictured on Tuesday camping at the picturesque Calda House near Inchnadamph in the Scottish Highlands
The exclusive department store Fortnum and Mason is even offering a dedicated ‘perfect staycation’ package – including a picnic basket, champagne and tea, of course.
Quarantine measures ‘could be extended to other countries’
Grant Shapps arrives at his Hertfordshire home yesterday
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said he ‘cannot rule out’ that other countries could be included under the UK’s quarantine measures.
Mr Shapps made the comment to reporters as he returned to the UK having cut short a family holiday to Spain.
It follows the UK Government’s decision to require travellers from the country to isolate for 14 days on their return to the UK following a rise in Covid-19 cases.
He said: ‘We absolutely have to act the moment we get the information and that’s exactly what happened with Spain as we saw and as we’ve seen over the weekend where there was over 6,100 cases – the highest since the peak in March over there.
‘It was the right thing to do and it’s why the whole of the UK did (it) at the same time. I can’t therefore rule out other countries having to go into the quarantine as well.’
Mr Shapps said he could understand the frustrations of those impacted by the measures, although he insisted that it was ‘essential’ that the Government acted when it did.
He said: ‘I very much understand (the frustrations), it obviously had an impact on me and my family and I’m very, very sorry and upset for the thousands of Brits who are either away or perhaps even haven’t managed to go away this summer as well to Spain.
‘But it’s absolutely essential we acted when we did, it’s why all four nations of the United Kingdom acted together and the figures since have turned out to justify that action. We have to, I think, have a clear message and make sure that we act by adding entire countries to that list for the time being.’
The Transport Secretary also explained that the exclusion of certain Spanish islands from the measures taken by the UK Government had been considered.
He said: ‘We did have a look at whether certain islands could be included (on the list) and not others. Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, was very clear with us that he was concerned about the data, we’d seen how the data had come very fast forward in Spain in 20, 48 hours, it had gone up by 75 per cent.
‘It had doubled in just a few days. He was concerned to see what was happening in the islands and that’s why we make it a whole-country approach in these things.’
But even if more Britons decide to stay put this year, it is unlikely to make up the shortfall for the tourism sector, which is pleading with the government for help to weather the crisis.
VisitBritain, British tourism’s lobbying body, estimates that the number of foreign tourists could fall by as much as 60 per cent this year due to the pandemic.
Labour has already warned of an unemployment crisis, with rates rising faster than the national average in the English regions most dependent on tourism such as Cornwall, Yorkshire and the Lake District.
Destinations popular with foreign tourists, such as Bath, are also struggling to draw in the crowds.
The sight of a few tourists milling around the city’s famous Roman Baths is in stark contrast to the usual throng that packs out the city, which normally welcomes around six million visitors a year.
‘It’s not even a quarter of the business that we usually get. I’d say it’s like two to three percent,’ Marcus Barnes told AFP as he cleaned the front of his souvenir shop.
The local authorities have introduced new measures, such as limiting the size of groups visiting the city, in an attempt to woo potential holidaymakers.
‘We think that if we can…have fewer people coming but staying longer, putting more into the local economy, actually getting more out of their visit, then that will be a more sustainable model for the future,’ said Stephen Bird from the city council.
The few intrepid tourists spotted on the streets seemed reassured. ‘You’re starting to see the sanitisation at hotels, the social distancing, so all in all I feel comfortable,’ said Cieran Fowley, who lives in London.
The website Pitchup.com, which sends 800,000 people a year to 2,000 UK campsites, says bookings are double last year’s level.
Some sites and parks are already taking strong bookings up to summer next year, throwing a lifeline to the industry.
However, certain businesses are hiking prices by as much as 50 per cent for 2021 to try to make up for the money lost during the lockdown.
The appeal of a British holiday has been boosted by a Government decision to slash VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for the hospitality industry.
As a result, Haven, Butlin’s and Center Parcs have cut prices on new bookings by more than 10 per cent for the summer.
The rush has put a huge strain on holiday companies. There is evidence of double bookings, resulting in trips being cancelled at the last minute.
Haven said bookings at its 36 parks had soared by 96 per cent year-on-year. Its sister brand Butlin’s also claims to be doing a roaring trade.
Hoseasons has had to recruit extra phone staff to cope with the huge demand.
Pitchup.com took its highest ever bookings on a single day on Sunday – 6,100, representing around 18,000 people. It was double the number for any single day last year.
Founder of the booking platform Dan Yates said there had been a clear switch to staycations. He said the new controls on travel to Spain, which include quarantine on return, were probably the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for foreign holidays.
He added: ‘British holidaymakers are unlikely to take the risk of not being able to work when they return which has likely been the catalyst for the surge in UK bookings.’