Coronavirus may have cut short any international holiday plans you had this summer, but that still leaves the UK, with Boris Johnson announcing a ‘route map’ for a phased-plan to come out of lockdown on February 22. We’re crossing our fingers this will involve some details on when we’ll be sunning ourselves on a British beach.
Speculation about the government’s plan suggests that, providing there isn’t a second spike and subsequent lockdown, we might be able to enjoy a self-catering staycation as early as April. Here's all you need to know about holidaying in the UK in 2021.
What is the government saying about UK holidays? - Boris Johnson's UK holidays announcement
On 22 February, as part of his road map out of lockdown, Boris revealed self-catered holidays within England would be back on the cards from 12 April. While this is after the Easter bank holiday weekend, it's sooner than some anticipated
Under current plans, hotels and b&bs can open the following month on 17 May.
What do the travel industry experts say?
Visit England's acting CEO Patricia Yates told Cosmopolitan, "While for now we must continue to stay home and enjoy our travelling online, we are working across the industry and with the UK Government to ensure that tourism is able to recover as quickly as possible once restrictions are lifted.”
VisitScotland's spokesperson said something similar, adding, “With restrictions still in place for both UK and international travel, it is unclear what the upcoming tourism season will look like. However, when restrictions allow, we will look forward to people booking a break in Scotland, subject to travel constraints.”
What we do know, though, is that with holidays abroad no longer looking likely, people are booking UK holidays now in anticipation of restrictions being relaxed later in the year.
Online travel booking site Glampingly, which sells quirky outdoor UK getaways, confirms the trend, reporting a big increase in optimism among travellers. Spokesperson James Warner Smith explained, “UK bookings have dramatically increased and are already three times higher than last year and continue to grow.
"The average length of the holidays being booked has increased by 10% compared to this time last week, indicating that people are now committing to longer holidays in the UK."
Canopy & Stars report something similar, with the number of 7-night bookings increasing for them by over 150% this year vs 2020.
Where are the most popular UK travel destinations for 2021?
A spokesperson for Airbnb told Cosmopolitan, "We’ve seen a big uptick in searches to the British countryside, both the traditional favourites and lesser travelled gems which is great news for hosts in these communities that wouldn’t normally benefit."
Honeypot areas like Cornwall, Devon and the Lake District are already heavily booked, but there’s still availability in often overlooked places. "The areas we feel are getting overlooked and still offer good availability are some of the most immediate spots to Londoners in the South East, such as Kent plus further afield counties such as Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire," Warner Smith continues.
VisitScotland predicts a surge in activity breaks. A spokesman told us, “After spending so much time at home, demand is once again likely to be high for destinations and experiences that offer physical and mental well-being benefits. Areas that offer great cycling, walking and other outdoor pursuits will be high on people’s lists.”
But is it safe to holiday in the UK?
The Stay Home message and lockdown are still very much in place country-wide, so it’s understandable to feel anxious about a staycation.
With this in mind, VisitEngland has launched We’re Good To Go, in partnership with the national tourism organisations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The aim is to reassure holidaymakers that tourism businesses are adhering to Government guidelines and have carried out all the necessary COVID-19 risk assessments.
Many hotels and self-catering escapes have also put their own measures in place to instil confidence once the country opens up again - some introduced a Clean & Safe Charter and additional measure such as social distancing and extra cleaning. Others used a sanitisation misting technique developed for hospital operating theatres which kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.
You could also consider self-check-in properties, so you're guaranteed no contact at check-in or during the stay. Total. Isolation.
The general consensus seems to be that it's too early to definitively say whether holidays in the UK will be going ahead. But it's more likely than holidays abroad. So if you want a week away in the diary, it would be a good idea to get one booked while there's still availability - just be sure to check out the cancellation policy should it come to that too.
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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