STAYCATION businesses are reporting ‘huge demand’ for their planned reopening on April 12.
That is the earliest date that self-contained accommodation providers and outdoor visitor attractions could be permitted to welcome back customers under Boris Johnson’s road map for easing the coronavirus lockdown in England.
Holiday home firm Cottages.com said two-thirds of its properties in coastal locations or with hot tubs have been booked for the week commencing April 12.
Simon Altham, group chief commercial officer at parent company Awaze, told the PA news agency there is no doubt that continued uncertainty about foreign travel has led to a rise in staycation bookings.
“We’ve definitely seen a marked increase in demand and traffic to our sites over the last week or so as we get nearer to restrictions being lifted and people look to lock in a UK getaway,” he said.
“The South West and traditional honeypot locations are booking up fast for the summer already, with Cornwall more than 80 per cent sold and Devon nearly 70 per cent sold.
“Bookings are way ahead of where they were at the same point in time last year and the year before, but there’s a good range of options for those prepared to look beyond the tourist hotspots and try something different, for example central England.”
Feather Down, which offers luxury camping on farms across Britain, is ‘nearly sold out’ for several weeks from April 12, according to co-founder Mark Gordon.
“If you and your family have been cooped up for the best part of a year, I think it’s going to literally be a breath of fresh air,” he said.
Bookings for this summer are more than double what they were at the same point last year, and more than 70 per cent higher than in 2019.
“If foreign travel opens up but is an almighty hassle in terms of testing, this really is a simple option,” Mr Gordon said.
Many guests are booking short breaks in the hope of being able to also take a longer overseas holiday.
Mr Gordon commented: “If it turns out that there are no foreign holidays to be had or that they’re very restrictive, I think you will find longer stays being booked towards the back end of the season as the summer runs out.”
Meanwhile, a number of outdoor visitor attractions such as theme parks and zoos are also preparing to reopen.
Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, said customers’ appetite to return to their favourite venues from April 12 is ‘absolutely enormous’.
He went on: “People are really wanting to go back to visitor attractions to share experiences with their families and friends, and create memories together after lockdown.
“We already know there’s been huge demand in terms of booking tickets, booking timeslots.
“I’m really confident that the British public will come back in their droves to places that are special to them.”
Mr Johnson is expected to make a statement on Monday in relation to the potential lifting of restrictions in England on April 12.
Self-contained holiday accommodation reopened in Wales on March 27 for people living within the country.
No date has been announced for when holiday accommodation could be used in Scotland or Northern Ireland.