While the lockdown in the UK is tentatively easing, it may still be a very long time before any semblance of normality returns to the world of international travel. Even countries that rely heavily on tourism will be reluctant to risk a relapse when there is a deadly pathogen on the loose – and despite recent advances in treatment, the prospect of a vaccine remains a distant one.
Among the many implications of this is a rise in popularity for the so-called ‘Staycation.’ British holidaymakers who would like to make the most of the summer will find themselves having to travel within the country rather than outside of it.
The Director of Operations at Comfort Insurance, Ben Cue, explains the phenomenon thusly: “At Comfort Insurance we anticipate that lockdown restrictions will be phased. However, as soon as individuals are free to travel again, a motorhome provides the perfect opportunity to escape to a safe place where any social distancing restrictions that may be imposed, can easily be adhered to whilst being able to enjoy the open spaces that the UK has to offer.”
Following a campaign by the NCC, planned increases to motorhome road tax have been shelved, saving motorhome buyers across the country thousands of pounds. This will help to further stimulate demand for this kind of vehicle, which in turn will provide some small amount of succour to an ailing domestic tourism industry.
Sales of motorhomes have plummeted largely in line with sales of other motor vehicles. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers, April saw a monumental decrease in sales for both petrol and diesel vehicles, of more than 90%. Somewhat remarkably, electric vehicles enjoyed a slight increase in the same period – perhaps because many British motorists have taken the lockdown as an opportunity to reassess their motoring behaviour in the long run.
With that said, some dealerships are reportedly enjoying small booms in motorhome sales as the lockdown comes to a close – which is a sure sign that at least some section of the British public is preparing for a staycation spree whenever the rules allow for one.
Similarly, tourist hotspots across the country are preparing for an influx of new arrivals. The Prime Minister’s outlining of a ‘roadmap’ out of the lockdown provided the domestic tourism industry with exactly the signal needed to begin its preparations. Camping is naturally appealing to virus-conscious holidaymakers, thanks to its emphasis on the great (and safe) outdoors, as well as the fact that it removes interactions with hotel staff, maids, and other potential incubators of the coronavirus.
The date of reopening in England has been set for July 4th, though discussion is still ongoing among the industry’s big players, and guidance has still yet to be published. Among the suggestions is an extra bank holiday in October, to give the industry an extra shot in the arm – though given the damage to the wider economy, it’s unlikely that an extra day off will be placed on the agenda anytime soon.