Camping holiday bookings in Britain surge in the last week

It appears the majority of Britain plans to holiday at home this summer, if the latest booking statistics are anything to go by.

Inspired by the current heatwave, coronavirus lockdown easing and not fancying their chances of getting away abroad by plane, thousands have scrambled to book trips in the great outdoors this week.  

Staycation bookings quadrupled on one outdoor accommodation website after the Prime Minister announced lockdown plans were easing further on 4 July, reaching a peak of one booking every three seconds at 8pm on Tuesday.

Not only did Pitchup – which specialises in bookings for holiday parks and campsites in Britain, Europe and the Americas – see the highest number of bookings in one day since it was founded a decade ago, around 98 per cent were for holidays in the UK, according to data from the platform.

Staycation bookings have quadrupled on outdoor accommodation site, Pitchup, this week

Staycation bookings have quadrupled on outdoor accommodation site, Pitchup, this week

It said in the 24 hours after Boris Johnson’s announcement about Britons able to book trips in the UK again, accommodation was booked for more than 8,200 UK holidaymakers.

Some of its sites took 133 bookings on Tuesday evening alone with the recent hot weather no doubt encouraging many to get away.  

Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup, said: ‘UK campsites are an obvious choice to avoid densely populated areas and transport hubs like international airports. 

‘Camping is also a good holiday solution for those working to lower budgets, and works for shorter breaks of a few nights, unlike many cottages that insist on seven night minimum in peak holiday season.’ 

However, bookings are understandably not as busy as they were in previous years.

In 2019, Pitchup had bookings for 800,000 UK holidaymakers on a staycation, most of whom travelled during July and August.

While visitor numbers are yet to reach those figures, over 6,300 bookings relating to 18,458 holidaymakers have booked for England over the last two days alone. 

Interest has shifted definitively towards domestic holidays this summer with less than two per cent of bookings made by UK customers since 1 May being for sites abroad, compared to more than 10 per cent for the same period last year.

Pitchup said over 98% of its recent bookings were for holidays in the UK, rather than overseas

Pitchup said over 98% of its recent bookings were for holidays in the UK, rather than overseas

With Britain seeing temperatures reach 30 degrees this week, more people are booking to go camping and caravanning – trips that have been the most dependent on an imminent reopening, resulting in the flurry of bookings.

These types of holiday were popular already – on an annual basis, the sector attracts 15 per cent more holiday nights than hotels and 417 per cent more than guest-houses with nearly all trips are made between Easter and October, peaking in the summer school holidays.

It’s likely this year will see a longer season than is traditional as those who would have taken a half term holiday abroad may well look closer to home. 

If all international trips were to convert to staycations, this could lead to an 81 per cent increase in domestic holidays.  

Cornwall is the most popular destination

Cornwall tops the table as the most popular destination with 14 per cent of all bookings, closely followed by Devon on 9 per cent.

For those looking to escape the crowds, Pembrokeshire, East Sussex and Norfolk are possibly better choices with two per cent of bookings each.

Holidaymakers are clearly desperate to escape lockdown life as by far the most popular period is the week beginning Sunday 5 July – the day after the Government’s earliest potential date for accommodation reopening.

The next most popular week is the start of the school holidays, followed by other periods during the typical long school holidays in July and August.

The most popular week outside of main school holidays is the week commencing 6 September, showing how dependent the sector is on the summer peak.

Newquay, Cornwall: Cornwall tops the table as the most popular destination for bookers

Newquay, Cornwall: Cornwall tops the table as the most popular destination for bookers

New precautions are in place

For those worried about having to cancel their trip due to lockdown restrictions becoming stricter, or in the case of catching coronavirus, deposits continue to be guaranteed transferable to a later date should guests need to change their dates, and many balances are also payable on arrival. 

Over 190 sites listed for England only require a transferable 15 per cent deposit payment at the time of booking, with the balance payable on arrival. 

Pitchup has also added nearly 50 COVID-19 optional features to its website, which hundreds of site owners have already selected to demonstrate their property’s safety on their Pitchup listing.

These range from contactless check-in, dedicated showers per pitch and digital food/drink menus to swimming pool entry quotas, cashless transactions and single sport participation only.

All sites will follow guidance set out by the UK government and will ensure cleanliness is a top priority, the booking platform said.  

Other sites have also seen large increases 

It is not just Pitchup that has seen a huge increase in bookings in the past week, other holiday sites have also revealed they have witnessed a substantial rise in people making reservations.  

Hoseasons, which specialise in luxury lodges, said they recorded one booking every 11 seconds within hours of the Prime Minister’s speech. 

It added that year-on-year sales were up 270 per cent. 

Travelsupermarket has also seen a spike in UK cottage and car hire searches on its site this week versus the week before. It reported that bookings were up 66 per cent whilst there had been an increase of 41 per cent for UK car hire bookings for pick-ups in July. 

Haven said that since the Government announcement on Tuesday, it has seen a 73 per cent increase in web traffic year on year with a 125 per cent increase in revenue versus the same day last year.

It also reported a 150 per cent rise in online bookings versus the same day last year, culminating in its third biggest sales day of the entire year. 

Since May, when it launched its new Haven Hideaway offering, which provides guests with self-contained, self-catering accommodation at its coastal parks but with a reduction in core facilities, it has seen an increase in sales of almost 70 per cent with demand for summer 2020 holidays. 

It added it has seen strong sales for 2021 with double the amount of year on year sales on many dates. 

Holiday Cottages saw web traffic on its site increase by over 250 per cent compared to the same point last year, with bookings taken being up four times compared to the same point a year ago. 

Forest Holidays said it expects to be fully booked at all locations by the time it reopens on Monday 6 July. 

Summer holidays to Spain are up 102% 

It is not just staycations that have seen a much welcome boost in the past week. 

Skyscanner said attitudes have changed over the past few days with 48 per cent of people booking travel from the UK over the last 28 days looking to travel within the next 30 days and two per cent looking to travel after a 180 day-period.

There were also 84 per cent more bookings for economy class, return travel from the UK during the past four weeks versus the previous four weeks. 

Popular destinations include Alicante, Bangkok, Dubai and Tenerife. 

Similarly, Travelsupermarket said it had also seen a rise in reservations with package holiday bookings up 52 per cent compared to the same time two weeks ago.

In the last fortnight, compared with the first part of June, the biggest country search increases for packages holiday prices from the UK are to Spain, which are up 42 per cent, Portugal, which are up 35 per cent and Greece which is up 31 per cent. 

Price comparison package holiday searches have risen 102 per cent to Majorca, 86 per cent to the Balearic Islands and 57 per cent to Portugal. 

It is likely these locations are so popular as they are the areas which have the least strict lockdown policies and are allowing Britons to travel there without having to quarantine on arrival. 

Emma Coulthurst, of Travelsupermarket, said: ‘Normally, it would be difficult to find a package holiday from the UK to the Med in the height of the school summer holidays for less than £300 per person but it is quite possible at the moment.

‘There are incredibly cheap holidays to the Med starting from around £150 per person for seven nights from the UK this summer. This summer, you can currently find a five star holiday for the equivalent price which you would normally pay for a three star one.’

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