As lockdown restrictions lift and the weather starts to turn warmer, thousands of Britons are planning their spring or summer escape.
Although there are signs that travelling abroad may be allowed in the near future, albeit with a vaccine passport, many are avoiding the risk and sticking to a staycation for the second year in a row.
Demand has surged yet again, with booking numbers over 200 per cent higher this year than last in some cases.
In fact, Britons are expected to spend an average of £353 each in the next six months on UK holidays, according to data from American Express.
Brighton is a popular destination for travellers this summer – alongside London and Newquay
Some of the most popular locations for travellers this year include London, Edinburgh, Brighton and Newquay.
To find out how much demand has grown by and when we are all planning to head away, This is Money spoke to some of the UK’s most popular staycation providers.
Skyscanner said searches for domestic flights from the UK increased 10 per cent week-on-week in the week beginning 18 April.
It said the most searched-for locations for trips between June and August this year were mainly UK cities, including London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast.
Jon Thorne, UK traveller expert at Skyscanner, said: ‘British travellers are enjoying the relaxation of rules on tourism in the UK and are booking fights and hotels within the UK for the immediate future.
‘We see from our data that there is a short-term desire for domestic and predicted travel-corridor countries, who will welcome visitors first.
‘We also see a lot of pent-up demand for international trips, and as the world starts to reopen, we expect the percentage of international travel taken to return as fast as the recovery allows.’
Travel: The Cotswolds has been a popular destination for holidaymakers this year and last
Meanwhile, Hoseasons said bookings for the year ahead were up 215 per cent on where they were this time last year, and 24 per cent up on the same point in 2019 – which was itself a record year.
Bookings in July and August were up 163 per cent compared to last year, and 61 per cent on the same point in 2019.
Later in the year, October trips have soared 111 per cent compared to 2020 and 78 per cent from 2019.
Many were also preparing for further in the future, with bookings for 2022 up 153 per cent.
It is a similar story at Cottages.com with bookings for the year ahead up 210 per cent compared to the same time last year and 40 per cent up on the same point in 2019, also a record year.
Summer bookings are up 171 per cent from 2020 and 86 per cent on the same point in 2019.
Bookings for October are also up 144 per cent on where they were this time last year and 122 per cent on the same point in 2019.
Meanwhile, bookings for 2022 are up 157 per cent on where they were at the same point last year for this year and 118 per cent on 2019 for 2020.
Simon Altham, group chief commercial officer at Awaze, the parent group of Cottages.com and Hoseasons, said: ‘Everything we are seeing suggests it’s going to be a year like no other for the domestic holiday industry.
‘The outlook for foreign travel is still uncertain, and so perhaps it’s not surprising that summer is selling so well.
‘But the huge uplift in bookings for October and 2022 just goes to show the enduring appeal of a quick, safe and convenient UK break, as people look to get back together and have something to look forward to both now and in the weeks and months to come.’
Many have already booked to take a trip to London this summer, according to Skyscanner
Center Parcs has seen a significant increase in bookings and interest in breaks recently. It said bookings for 2021, in particular from May onwards, were proving very strong.
A spokesperson for Center Parcs said: ‘Whilst we expect demand for a break in the UK to remain high, it is clear that people want reassurance about the flexibility to cancel or change dates.’
It said its Book with Confidence guarantee allowed guests to change dates with no fee, or receive a full refund should they no longer be able to, or feel comfortable to, go ahead with their break when the time arrived.
Forest Holidays said its year-on-year occupancy for July to October was also up 60 per cent from the same time last year.
School summer holidays have been the most popular dates, with Deerpark in Cornwall and its White Willow cabins at Delamere in Cheshire selling out first.
Prices have increased slightly due to high demand for cabins, but it said it offers guests up to a £100 discount to move their break if affected by Covid closures.
The firm noted most of its cabins left in May were larger cabins with 4 or 5 bedrooms. This suggests people are travelling in smaller groups, likely due to Covid restrictions.
In the longer term, however, holidaymakers are happy to make larger bookings. Fore the winter season, Forest says its two and three-bedroom family cabins are selling faster than the one-bedroom couples cabins.
Meanwhile, Booking.com‘s research has revealed an increase in travel searches since the Government’s roadmap announcement on the lockdown restrictions easing.
It said eight out of the top ten most searched for destinations for summer were now based in the UK, which is twice as many as 2020.
Some 22 per cent of people cite a relaxing beach or spa trip as the first type of trip they will take when it’s safe to do so, whilst just 5 per cent say a city break is a priority.
The top domestic destinations for this year include Torquay, Bournemouth, Edinburgh, Brighton and Hove and St Ives.
Edinburgh is another popular location for holidaymakers looking to get away this year
Haven Holidays said that as a result of the lifting of lockdown restrictions, it had experienced unprecedented demand, following a long period of very low demand.
Following the announcement of the roadmap out of lockdown, it celebrated its most successful sales day ever, recording a revenue increase of over 60 per cent on its previous best sales day.
A spokesperson said: ‘Due to the level of demand, certain weeks of the year have seen a greater level of interest and, as always, we move our prices in line with demand.
‘At present the highest level of demand is for the May half-term break and school summer holidays, where we have sold over 70 per cent of the breaks available. On average, our prices are currently around 20 per cent higher than in 2019.’
Holidaycottages.co.uk said bookings for July and August were up more than 150 per cent compared to the same point in 2020, and almost 120 per cent up compared to 2019.
Matt Brayley, marketing director at holidaycottages.co.uk, said coastal areas in regions such as Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, the Isle of Wight, Wales and Norfolk were seeing the highest demand, with searches currently up more than 150 per cent compared to 2019.
TravelSuperMarket.com said consumer confidence to start searching and booking a UK holiday had risen enormously since the start of the year.
Comparing the week of 19 to 25 April to the first week of the year, visits to TravelSupermarket’s website to search for UK holidays had grown by 506 per cent.
Traffic specifically looking and comparing prices for UK cottage breaks had grown by 349 per cent.
Many booked breaks with their household for April departures, to take advantage of the first opportunity to get away from home for many months.
Top destinations booked included Devon, Cumbria, Dorset, Norfolk and Cornwall.
Other places which were proving popular included Snowdonia, Anglesey, North Yorkshire. Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
TravelSuperMarket added that people were also booking now for 2022.
Emma Coulthurst of TravelSupermarket said: ‘The conundrum is finding a good price and somewhere you want to go to: my advice is to be open-minded about where you go, if you want to find somewhere at a reasonable cost.
‘It pays to shop around, compare prices and be open-minded and consider a few different and not so well-known destinations. It is also worth asking friends and family for their ideas of destinations which they’ve enjoyed which might be less visited, and therefore have more availability and lower prices.’
She added that if customers are prepared to travel to a UK city for a holiday this summer, there are currently some good-value prices available.
What do holidaymakers need to be aware of?
For travellers booking to travel this summer, there are still several points they should take note of in the event that restrictions change.
1) Can you change dates?: When you book, ensure that you are able to switch dates or get your money back if Covid restrictions imposed by the Government prevent you from travelling.
2) Terms and conditions: Read the terms and conditions before booking and know what you are signing up to. Find out what the firm’s policy is regarding coronavirus cancellations, and what measures have been put in place to keep you safe.
3) Get insurance: Importantly, holidaymakers should still purchase travel insurance even if they’re staying in the same country.
You will still need it in case your holiday is cancelled, your baggage gets stolen or your accommodation provider goes bust.
4) Credit card: Consider booking with a credit card for Section 75 protection. This means you can make a claim to get a refund if something goes wrong with your trip.