Forget staycations, I need sun

Posted by Elizabeth Harrison in Credit Crunch on 3 April 2013 - Elizabeth is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

After months of wet, cold and generally miserable weather it comes as no surprise that many are ignoring the budget-friendly staycation, which has proven increasingly popular in recent years, and treating themselves to a holiday in the sun this Easter.

Travel agents and airports are reporting a busier-than-expected Easter break with a marked increase in the number of holidays and flights abroad and many more late bookings expected as a result of the poor weather we’ve been experiencing.

It turns out that the Association of British Travel Agents, ABTA, predicted correctly that record numbers of Britons headed abroad over the Easter with destinations such as Spain and Egypt, where sunshine and high temperatures can be guaranteed, proving particularly popular.

So far this year we’ve enjoyed an average temperature of 3.1°C and the Met Office has predicted that 2013 could be one of the ten coldest years on record. With March set to be the coldest it’s been since 1986 and following year upon year of dismal summers weather-wise, many are likely to make a foreign holiday a priority this year. Could this mark the end of the staycation boom?

Holidaying at home has always been an option but it’s only in the past few years that the idea of the staycation has really taken off as the tough economic climate has led to many people tightening their belts and cutting back on luxuries such as foreign holidays.

It’s not just a question of staying at home and forgoing a holiday but using your home as your base to save on accommodation costs and taking advantage of what’s on offer locally with planned activities, visits to local attractions and restaurants and the odd day trip further afield or weekend away thrown in for good measure.

The staycation became particularly popular in 2009 following the economic downturn when the weakness of the pound was making foreign holidays even more expensive. Since this time VisitEngland, the tourist board for England, has been tracking this trend and its effect on the British tourism industry.

It has certainly helped to boost the domestic tourism market with increased holidays here contributing billions of pounds to the industry each year and hotels, restaurants, pubs and attractions all benefiting as a result.

In more recent years the staycation has continued to be a popular option and the numbers of British people holidaying abroad has certainly declined but it looks like this may be set to change.

Until now, a foreign holiday was a luxury that could not be justified for many but it looks as though we all have our limits and snow in March is just too much. Financial sacrifices will have to be made elsewhere.

For a nation famously obsessed with the weather, it’s hardly surprising that it's a major factor in determining our holidaying habits. The latest staycation tracker research from VisitEngland reveals that those people who experienced bad weather during their British holiday in 2012 were more likely to plan a holiday abroad the following year.

The wet summers we have endured in recent years and general lack of sunshine has seemingly put many off the idea of further holidays at home this year. Increased optimism over personal finances and the economy in general has also contributed to the rise once again of holidays abroad.

Add to that the fact that staycations can often work out as expensive as an overseas break - which with online deals and a bit of careful planning can be very reasonably priced - and suddenly that trip abroad is not just appealing but also attainable.

In 2012 there was a sharp increase in the number of people holidaying abroad over the Easter period with a reported 1.5 million holidaymakers leaving the country. This year it’s 1.7 million so the numbers are up on last year and the general trend seems to suggest this will continue.

With the cold weather likely to continue for now, travel agents, tour operators and airlines can expect to be kept busy for some time yet.

Elizabeth Harrison is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile. She has a degree from the University of Manchester in French and German.

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