Thinking back to last autumn, when many of us might have been planning ahead to holidays in the summer of 2020, we could never have anticipated that a pandemic would change the travel industry so monumentally.
With each country battling coronavirus at its own rate, the possibility of taking a holiday abroad feels impossible right now. And it remains the case that no one is really able to give us a strong indication of when trips overseas will be safe.
But there is hope on the horizon. Boris Johnson has announced that hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites will be able to open from 4 July, we’re more than a little bit excited to plan a staycation in the near future.
And enthusiasm for holidays in the UK is a trend that will be ongoing throughout 2020 according to Airbnb, who recently announced that the 10 top wish-listed properties on their site for UK users are all rural staycations, most of which are located in far-removed spots in the countryside. This is good news for the UK travel industry, which after taking a huge financial dip, will hopefully see a resurgence as Britons start planning holidays within the country.
So, now that we know when we can book a holiday, the big question is: how will these trips look and feel different to staycations we’ve been on before? And, what will the impact be on our favourite hotels and bed and breakfasts?
We’ve asked the experts to get a better picture of when that wanderlust wish list can become a reality. Below, you’ll find our burning travel questions answered and insight from some of the best travel experts and companies in the business.
When will we be able to book holidays in the UK again?
Boris Johnson has announced that hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites are free to open on 4 July. As this news comes only a few weeks before this date, though, there’s no guarantee your favourite hotel will be ready to open immediately.
We reached out to Scottish boutique hotel The Fife Arms who informed Stylist.co.uk that they are preparing to open on 1 August, while an Airbnb spokesperson told us: “we have a temporary limit on bookings for UK stays that take place on or before 3 July 2020, listings that are visible on the platform will not be bookable for non-essential stays until 4 July.”
Essentially, although hotels are technically able to open on 4 July, if you’re holding out a holiday somewhere specific or have a prior booking close to this date the best thing to do is call the venue and double check when they will be ready to welcome you.
How will UK holidays be different after coronavirus?
Nicky Kelvin, Head of Content at travel website The Points Guy UK, predicts that self-holiday rentals will be a huge part of our ‘new normal’ way of travelling.
“As we approach a ‘new normal’ in the weeks and months following the coronavirus pandemic, short-term rentals stand to be more popular than ever,” Kelvin explains.
“After all, travellers can book a private home with a kitchen and a pool, eliminating the need to have dinners out, stand in queues to check in or vie for a sliver of crowded beachfront.”
This means popularity for websites like Airbnb, Home Away and Canopy & Stars will be at an all time high, additionally because they focus on rural properties with a ‘wild living’ feel, which Airbnb has reported as a huge trend for post-lockdown stays.
In fact, Aribnb have reported that 70% of this year’s most wish-listed listings for UK users are lodges, cabins and glamping accommodation showing that we’re looking for holidays away from others, out in the wilderness.
What will travel trends for 2020/2021 be?
It’s all about travelling closer to home. Although flying is technically possible and airlines are planning to get more flights going as soon as possible, the reality is we won’t be flying to destinations like Bali anytime soon.
Kelvin comments on this, saying: “Flying is possible right now, albeit the choice of routes is severely diminished and the freedoms on travel are also limited. Both of these things will slowly improve in the coming months, so when you are ‘able’ to fly is going to depend significantly on where you want to go. Is there a flight that will take your desired destination, and will government and other restrictions at either end allow you to travel?
“We might see some countries locked down for much longer than others, so whilst you may be able to get to Berlin next month, maybe you won’t be able to get to Barbados this year.”
He also notes that travel trends could be swayed by the first countries that welcome tourists again and we might see a rush of travel to the first places that open up.
What will the economic impact of the pandemic be on our travelling habits?
The damage to the world’s economy could last years, says Kelvin, with the potential of significant unemployment, and a deep recession. This will result in a reduction in disposable income for millions of people which will have a direct effect on their ability to travel.
Kelvin says: “Holidays, or at least the level of extravagance, distance, or duration of breaks are one of the first things to get cut from budgets when times are tough. This could signal the popularity of staycations or shorter bargain European holidays in the coming years.
“Looking longer term, I think there is huge potential for rebound in travel for those wanting to seize the day after feeling the reality of being trapped. People may start to live for the now, and aim to realise their dreams. This could mean a boost for bucket list destinations like the Maldives, Petra, the Galapagos, Santorini, Angkor Wat, the Himalayas and Machu Picchu,” he continues.