The rise of the 'Staycation'
While Covid-19 may have constrained our travel aspirations, it hasn’t dampened our collective desire for travel, exploration, and escape.
While Covid-19 may have constrained our travel aspirations, it hasn’t dampened our collective desire for travel, exploration, and escape. While international travel may still seem too complicated to offer the promise of relaxation and cultural immersion, demand for a ‘staycation’ show that our collective desire for travel remains as strong as ever.
The human desire for exploration can weather most crises. During the 2008 financial crash, research showed that UK consumers sought to protect discretionary expenditure for holidays and days out. It has been clear throughout the pandemic that freedom to travel is seen as incredibly important, which explains both the increase in demand, and subsequent increase in cost, of UK holiday accommodation, during 2020 and 2021.
Over the last 18-months many people will have tried holidaying in the UK for the first time, and for some, the experience might mark a change in their long-term habits, substituting at least some foreign holidays with short breaks and longer stays in the UK. And this is important for the UK tourism sector. Historically, tourism has been a hugely important export, attracting over 40 million visitors spending over £28bn annually (Visit Britain, 2020).
Losing this volume of tourist spend is a critical issue for the sector, so an increase in domestic travel is really important for supporting jobs, creating new business opportunities, and sustaining the industry. Even more important is the relationship between tourism and the built and natural environment – especially in rural communities. Of course, there is no shortage of incredible places to visit, but few destinations have the incredible mix of stunning landscapes, cosmopolitan cities and diverse communities that can be found in England’s biggest county.
At 2.9 million acres Yorkshire offers something for every staycation aspiration. The county offers some of the grandest houses in the country – Castle Howard and Harewood House have been the inspiration for great writers – from Emily Bronte to Bram Stoker, incredible collections – The Royal Armouries and The National Science and Media Museum, and is home to some incredible wildlife. There is no shortage of popular attractions, but it is the path less trodden that offers some of the most incredible rewards for the traveller. It is the discovery of the failed tourist resort at Ravenscar, the view from the ruins of Middleham Castle and a ride in a fire engine at the National Emergency Services Museum which deliver the moments of emotional significance that are so important for authentic travel experiences.
Before joining Leeds Beckett as Head of the Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Management, Peter worked for ten years at University of Wolverhampton, as a Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Events, then as Head of Leisure and latterly as Head of Marketing, Innovation, Leisure and Enterprise.