British hotels, B & Bs and holiday parks registered a 20-30% increase in requests for travel chaos in the half term, as families are thinking twice about traveling abroad this summer.
Companies said that a last-minute increase in bookings gave a much-needed boost as sales had fallen back after the boom in 2020 and 2021, thanks to the removal of restrictions on foreign travel.
The cost of living crisis has also put a damper on family vacation plans for this summer, with many delayed bookings due to concerns about having extra money to spend.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the UK Hospitality, which represents thousands of accommodation providers, said bookings had generally been reduced over the past two years as foreign travel resumed.
But she said there had been an increase in requests for late summer and mid-October, especially city breaks and rural and coastal locations, after airlines were forced to cancel flights.
“We are not sure if this was a direct response to the travel chaos and difficulties of traveling abroad or the cost of living or people realizing how good Britain is after the platinum anniversary,” she said, adding that as well as strongly. Domestic bookings International visitors also return.
Nicholls said the trend of last-minute bookings, experienced in recent years due to Covid concerns, has continued, but companies are being held back by staff shortages, with hoteliers closing rooms due to too few cleaners or kitchen staff to serve them.
Paul Hardingham, CEO of holiday park operator Landal GreenParks UK, which has a number of sites across the UK, including Cornwall, Scotland, the Peak District and Yorkshire, revealed a similar pattern. He said that orders increased by 20% at pre-pandemic levels in June, with strong demand for last-minute breaks, but overall orders this summer were currently lower than last year.
“We expect high bookings for the summer with last minute breaks sold out, with same day and next day bookings at record highs this year. We have seen around 20% of all bookings for arrivals over the next seven days and almost 30% for the next 14 days, he said.
Online campsite Pitch Up said bookings in the UK were just over double those it experienced before the pandemic, with traditional sites doing better than glamping, which had increased when foreign destinations were banned.
Dan Yates, the founder, said: “The disruption of overseas travel has definitely played a role in getting more holidaymakers to choose to stay in the UK this year, as people favor security and peace of mind after the pandemic.
“The rising cost of living is also a driving factor behind the increase, with many opting for a camping or glamping trip close to home instead of an expensive flight abroad to help their household budgets stretch further.”
However, the group said bookings were slightly lower than this time last year when families had fewer holiday options.
Sally Mynard, co-owner of Alpine Park Cottages near Sidmouth in Devon, said the company had seen a 7% increase in half-term bookings when the news of the airport chaos came through.
But she said: “We are still down to levels before Covid. We have had the worst start to the season in 10 years when it comes to pre-orders which are down 20%.”
She said that bookings for the school holidays were particularly weak as some families lacked cash and others used up coupons for trips abroad that had been delayed due to the pandemic.
“People leave it late and see what money they have available,” she said. “Because of the price of gasoline, people are looking at how much it will cost to get here and whether they can afford to do things when they arrive.”
The Campervan rental group Indie Campers said that 39% more Britons reserved one of their vehicles in the UK this year with a slight increase in the length of the trip they booked.
A spokesman said: “We are already noticing a shift as people think ahead about the potential chaos of the school holidays and book family holidays in advance with an increase in demand in August.”
Visit Cornwall said that companies had a strong start to the year as they were able to trade between January and March for the first time in several years. However, May and June had been “slow”.
A spokesperson said that orders were on a par with pre-pandemic levels, but lower than the last two “boom years” for late spring and summer, and that some companies had seen cancellations.