Last year was the summer we’d all been waiting for, and domestic tourism boomed as a result.
With early signs of warm weather on the way again, it looks like more UK residents are planning to holiday closer to home in 2014, too.
A number of travel agents have already reported an increase in bookings, citing good value, the promise of better weather and some exciting events in the national calendar as incentives for people to books breaks in the UK.
Holidaylettings.co.uk, the UK’s leading vacation rentals website, has recorded a surge in domestic bookings, with six of it’s top ten ranking destinations now in the UK – two locations even beating the Costa Blanca and Algarve.
The most searched for location in January and February 2014 was London, followed closely by Cornwall.
But alongside the more obvious holiday hotspots, some surprising destinations have grown in popularity – namely Newcastle and South Tyneside.
Figures from the local tourist board show South Tyneside attracted more than 140,000 visitors in 2013.
Much of this success has been put down to some great events being hosted in the city, such as the Foghorn Requiem, a tribute to decommissioned foghorns across the UK, which saw foghorns being played on an armada of boats.
“In South Tyneside we pride ourselves on offering one of the most substantial programmes of free events in the UK,” says Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader for South Tyneside Council.
Yorkshire, having been named by Lonely Planet as a top 10 destination for 2014, also looks set to welcome an influx of visitors – mainly thanks to the Tour de France which will pass through the area.
Key events, it would seem, have a real bearing on visitor number to a region. Shearings (www.shearings.com) has reported a 20% increase in booking for Stratford, with a number of special events taking place to mark Shakespeare’s 450th birthday in April, while in Scotland the Commonwealth Games has caused a surge of interest spreading as far as the Highlands and Outer Hebrides. Wilderness Scotland (www.wildernessscotland.com) say their new Road Cycling The Outer Hebrides Tour (£1195 for six days) has done especially well.
Active holidays are also proving popular in North Wales dubbed the UK’s “heart of adventure”. River rafting in Snowdonia and zooming along the northern hemisphere’s longest zip wire are two of the activities attracting experience-seeking tourists.
Great accommodation options in the UK are also driving an increase in weekend breaks, with boutique hotels and luxury properties leading the way. Habitat Escapes (www.habitatescapes.com - rebranded from Lower Mill Estate), a nature-sensitive development of luxury holiday homes in the Cotswolds, says booking are up 30% on 2013; while the highly anticipated Pig On The Beach (www.thepighotel.com/on-the-beach), the fourth hotel in the group due to open in Studland Bay on June 5, made 1,100 booking in 24 hours when the website went live.