Staycation UK: Wish you were here – Oh! You are!

For the first time in a generation, more Britons are likely to holiday at home this year than to go abroad. David Randall and Greg Walton investigate

After 11 months in which Britons have been told that their economy is broke, Parliament corrupt, Prime Minister dysfunctional, and population infected with a potentially lethal flu virus, at last they are getting the summer break they so richly deserve.

And the way they are taking it is marking a fundamental shift in the nation's social habits. For the first time in a generation, more Britons are holidaying in their own country than abroad.

From the Western Isles to the beaches of Brighton, and from the sands of Northumberland to the cliffs of Cornwall, there is hardly a part of the country that is not seeing a substantial swelling of visitor numbers. Hotel groups such as Travelodge are reporting bookings well ahead of last year at resorts and on routes to Scotland and the coast. Major providers of self-catering holidays, such as Hoseasons and Haven, say business is well up on recent years with family accommodation now almost booked up.

Resort after resort is reporting the best trade for years; some areas such as the Isle of Wight expect a rise in visitors that could exceed 50 per cent, and caravan and camping sites are seeing record years. So marked has been the migration to the country's resort areas that tomorrow Debenhams will announce it is shipping extra stock to its branches in seaside towns to try to cope with the "unprecedented" demand there. Other chains are expected to follow suit.

Fully a third of all Britons, and a clear majority of those having a holiday, will this year take their breaks within these shores. And while tourism chiefs recognise that negative factors – such as the unfavourable pound-euro exchange rate and the hassle of security-obsessed airports – play their part, they think something more deep-seated is going on.

First, that in the credit-crunched world, with the reality, or fear, of unemployment a monkey on all our backs, a UK holiday seems a thriftier move, and, if taken spontaneously (as many seem to be doing), allows a swift return home as soon as the budget runs out. Second, there has been an enormous amount of investment in tourist facilities here, from the cluster of little cedar lodges on a Yorkshire farmer's land to millions spent on all-weather facilities at holiday parks and on bringing the infrastructure of major resorts up to snuff.

Our summers are warmer and the UK is a more variedly welcoming place than it has ever been. Festivals, whether of literature, jazz, kites, film, or boats, have brought excitement to many a fading venue; then there are the farm shops, restaurants and boutique hotels that have made holidaying in Britain more pleasurable.

VisitBritain is now beginning to believe that its projection earlier in the summer – that the increase in Britons holidaying in the UK could amount to five million extra people – is being fulfilled. Certainly the evidence from around the country is pointing that way. A sampling of tourism offices around Britain yesterday produced the following enthusiastic responses: "unprecedented demand" (Penrith, Cumbria); "busiest season in five years" (St Ives, Cornwall); "really busy June going into July. More Brits than last year" (Poole, Dorset); "in the past, guests have complained about high prices, but this year people are very positive about the cost" (Winchester); "we had a slow start but now we're having to scout around when looking for accommodation" (Bude, Cornwall); "a great season so far" (Sheringham, Norfolk).

This anecdotal evidence is backed by what the major holiday firms and organisations are finding. Travelodge hotels says that forward bookings at locations such as Edinburgh, Blackpool and Brighton are well ahead of last year. Its spokesman, Nick Dines, said that its roadside hotels, especially on routes to Scotland and the West Country, are "very strong", as are bookings at hotels in resorts such as Blackpool and Scarborough.

Hoseasons, a huge operator taking about one million visitors to UK holidays, said that business was 20 per cent up on last year, which was itself a strong year. Family holiday beds were now in short supply, and its spokesman, Peter Joyner, said the firm was "on the verge of trying to rush round and find accommodation for people". Hoseasons was not alone in reporting that, as well as traditional holiday areas such as the South-east and the West Country, some less obvious locations such as Northumberland and Essex were doing well. "People," he said, "are discovering things and places about their own country that they didn't know about."

One of the ways they are doing that is by taking short breaks, and by camping and caravanning – perhaps the most identifiable boom sector of all. The Camping and Caravanning Club says advance bookings at its sites are 15 per cent better than last year, and at one Haven static caravan site on the south coast, sales of caravans are 70 per cent ahead of last year.

Peter Hampson of the British Resorts and Destinations Association said there was "incredible demand" for budget accommodation from Britons. He also said that the National Trust and English Heritage were seeing booming membership numbers as well as an increase in visitors – in the case of the former, a 20 per cent rise reported in June, and, for the latter, an increase of 25 per cent in visitors to their North-east properties alone. Mr Hampson said: "This is really good news for the UK economy."

That is mirrored by many other attractions, especially in the North. Ullswater Steamers in the Lake District says it is "very busy"; York Minster said its June visitors were 22 per cent up on last year; and the North York Moors centre was 18 per cent up in the first six months of 2009.

In the end, the enduring success of the Great British Holiday Revival will depend on the weather. And, for now, with the Met Office talking of a warmer than usual, if not entirely dry, August, the prospects are looking good. Enjoy the break – we all deserve it.

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam