Short breaks help revive tourism in England

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The Independent Online
Short-break holidays at home by Britons have risen by 30 per cent, to boost English tourist industry figures out of the recession.

The English Tourist Board's annual report yesterday said that an English holiday revival was mainly due to a new trend among ''career couples, affluent families and empty nesters'' living in the UK, who had taken 25.6 million short breaks in England last year.

The total of holiday visits to England by United Kingdom residents rose by 24 per cent to 90 million visits in 1994, according to the report.

This is the first time in five years that the ETB has recorded a sign of real growth in the number of British who choose to take their holidays in the UK.

John East, chief executive of the ETB, said that the new interest in shorter holidays had added an estimated pounds 8.5m to the total amount of money spent by UK citizens on holiday in England.

He said that an advertising campaign launched last year to attract holidaymakers to take short breaks in the UK seemed to have been successful: "It may be too soon to call short breaks a trend, but if the British now prefer to take more short holidays, the tourist industry needs to adapt to that change."

Higher overall visiting figures to England have meant that spending by tourists in England still recorded a 21 per cent increase to pounds 11.7m last year. However, figures showed that nearly half of those who spent a short break in England stayed with friends and relatives, limiting the benefit to the British economy.

The changing holiday habits have come as a boost to the English seaside, which the report said benefited from 18.5 million visits last year: "Four in ten of all holiday trips in England are taken by the coast," Adele Biss, chairwoman of the ETB, said.

And despite the near extinction faced by the seaside special trains, the board estimated that more than 110 million day-trips were made last year to the seaside. The report shows that the seaside is England's biggest single source of revenue for the domestic tourist industry.

The ETB is planning to capture the imagination of the UK holidaymaker with an extension of its existing advertising programme for British holidays: "This year we are predicting steady growth, predominantly in short holidays." Mr East said.

The ETB will concentrate on encouraging the increase in short breaks, and the increase in spending by UK tourists when they are on holiday. They will also try to encourage people with more ''leisure time'' to take more day trips.

Mr East said the board would be spending pounds 2m on 50 new projects this year, from supporting narrowboat and farm holidays to preparing to welcome thousands of European football fans to England for Euro '96.

The ETB has also disclosed it will bid for more than pounds 25m from the lottery Millenium Fund to revitalise and improve access to Britain's coast.

THE BRITISH ON HOLIDAY

The report showed that in 1994:

8 Britons took 18.5 million seaside holidays in England, spending pounds 3.2bn;

8 Seaside holidays accounted for nearly two in five of all holiday trips in England;

8 The West Country received the most UK tourists last year with more than 15 million trips being taken and pounds 2.45bn being spent;

8 Southern England saw the second biggest number of visitors with 10.6 million trips being made there and pounds 1.14bn being spent;

8 Yorkshire and Humberside experienced the largest increase in trips (41%) followed by the Heart of England (39%) and the South-east (32%);

8 Trips to England of one to three nights duration actually outstripped those of four nights or more;

8 Total spending by Britons in England was pounds 11.65bn and by Britons in the UK was pounds 14.49bn.

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