As Brits look to home shores for the second consecutive summer for their holidays, Ramtin and Damon Taheri argue this should not simply be for the duration of pandemic restrictions, and that staycations can be of great benefit going forward.  

Two thirds of British adults are planning a staycation this year, whilst 13% say they would prefer to travel overseas. Both Coronavirus and Brexit have created this travel trend of 2021, yet I hope to see this become a permanent shift. Our tourism sector has taken a huge hit along with the hospitality and events industry. Just as we are all keen to 'eat out to help out' to help our local economies, we should all be 'holidaying at home to help at home' too.

There is a general British perception that to go on holiday, one has to board a plane. But that wasn't always the case; in the period of post-war prosperity, the great seaside holiday was a staple British experience. Those who lived in Manchester or Glasgow may frequent Blackpool and Morecambe, whereas Londoners might choose Brighton or Margate.

However, the 1970s saw the rise of the cheap consumer flight and the package holiday, which correlated with a massive decline in seaside towns, who were left with derelict attractions and ageing populations. Some local economies were boosted by fishing, farming and manufacturing, but the decline in these industries in the 1980s saw these towns descend into deprivation. This has triggered a severe social breakdown. In 2013, the Centre for Social Justice, set up by the then Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, carried out a report that established the link between derelict seaside towns with crime, homelessness, poverty and drug and alcohol related problems.

However, the shift in popularity of the staycation is rising. Lockdown weary Brits needed a holiday more than ever, with Google searches for 'UK Travel' up by a whopping 2500% year on year in 2020. This shift seems to be especially prevalent amongst the younger generations, with research by Holiday Cottages claiming that 43% of 18-24 year old respondents named Cornwall as their desired holiday location.

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I would hope that after the G7 has shone a light on Cornwall's natural beauty, that the government may offer some investment in this stunning, yet economically left-behind county, as well as our native Dorset. The union Unite has rightly pointed out that whilst world leaders, including Joe Biden, quaff vintage wines and gourmet meals, that Cornwall had one of the 17 most deprived wards at the beginning of the pandemic.

The British tourism industry needs British custom now more than ever. In 2018, the travel and tourism industries contributed 6.7% of all gross value added to the UK. Yet the sector has been rocked over 2020 and 2021, with the young people between the ages of 16 to 24 seeing the largest fall in employment of any age group.

We hope that after restrictions ease, this trend for a preference for staycations remains, because our economy so desperately needs it. As we head into the 'new normal', we should in fact try to replicate the 'old normal'; holidaying at home. Why do we turn our noses up at holidaying in our own backyard? Many Brits still have a mental image of decrepit seaside theme parks and amusement arcades. Yet in reality, the UK holiday is offering is under-appreciated and under-utilised. Have you ever done a sea-kayaking tour of the Pembrokeshire Coastline? What about a hiking trip holiday through the Lake District, or an isolated stay on the Isle of Skye? We have 32 UNESCO World Heritage sites at home on these whiter shores. Believe me, these are experiences that can put any Marbella hotel room to shame.

Beyond this, if the government is serious about 'levelling up' these left behind seaside regions, then they should offer investment in these places to return them to the glorious, holidaymaker-friendly towns they once were. Tourism infrastructure investment would be a great place to start, and the Government should actively encourage staycations in the same way that they encouraged eating and drinking out in our restaurants and bars.

When travel restrictions ease, holidaymakers should forgo the plane trip and stay in their own backyard. Not only will this help us all to cut back on our carbon footprint, reduce our holiday costs and help to boost our economies here at home, but you may just discover some hidden gems that you would have never known about otherwise. The people of Bournemouth would be more than happy to see some smiling, sunburnt British faces embrace our banks. It should not just be in ancient times that feet walked upon England's mountains green.

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