Year of the Staycation


April 18, 2021 • Bel Booker

Top 7 Trends Shaping UK Travel

With people advised to hold off booking holidays abroad, the UK looks set to enjoy a bumper summer of domestic tourism. In fact, 84 per cent of Brits plan to base their travel plans in the UK this year (according to research by – including Gen Z, who normally wouldn’t consider holidaying at home.

But with holidaymakers forced to swap Mediterranean beach resorts and exotic adventures for staycations, what will they be looking for in a domestic holiday? We’ve identified 7 trends that will shape British travel this year.

Trend 1 – Increased consideration of lesser-known destinations 

With so many people settling for a staycation this summer, demand is outstripping supply in many of the UK’s most popular destinations. As a result, Brits are having to look beyond places like Cornwall and Devon.

Although those two destinations are still way up there in terms of desirability (48 per cent of us hope to head to Cornwall at some point this year, and 43 per cent to Devon), lots of people are also researching trips to the Scottish Highlands (43 per cent), the Yorkshire Dales (35 per cent) and Snowdonia (32 per cent). Meanwhile, a separate list put together by Big 7 Travel, pinpoints other lesser-visited UK destinations on the itinerary this year, including Ballycastle, Anglesey and Derry. 

Trend 2 – City exodus to rural beauty spots

As well as considering lesser-known UK destinations, people are showing interest in a different type of destination. Brits are hoping to visit more rural, scenic locations for their staycation, with far fewer cities on the most-wanted list. 

And while London was the most visited staycation spot of 2020, the capital seems to have lost some of its shine, dropping way down in terms of interest. On the other hand, Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh has become more desirable – perhaps because it also affords visitors the chance to visit surrounding rural beauty spots?

Trend 3 – UK cruises rule the seas

Earlier in the pandemic, the future of cruises was looking bleak, with boatloads of holidaymakers forced to quarantine out at sea. But cruises are making a surprise comeback in the form of domestic itineraries. 

Various lines have decided to operate UK cruises this summer and Brits can’t wait to climb aboard. The launch of P&O Cruises’ UK itineraries led to P&O’s site temporarily crashing due to the “unprecedented” level of demand. 

Simone Clark, Senior Vice President of Global Supply at Iglu Cruise says: “These cruises are a great option for people looking for a change of scenery and eager to experience all of the things they have been missing during lockdown, from fine dining in restaurants to enjoying a show in the theatre.”

Jonathon Woodall, COO of Hays Travel, adds that providers need to shift their focus when marketing UK cruises, away from where the ship is sailing to and towards the ship itself. The ship is the destination.

Trend 4 – “Revenge” spending boosts holiday budgets

While the pandemic has negatively impacted many people’s incomes, it appears it hasn’t led to reduced holiday budgets. In fact, lots of us are planning to spend more on trips because we haven’t been able to go away for so long – a segment that has been named “revenge travellers”

According to The Travel Trends 2021 Study conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners, 74 per cent of British travellers will spend the same or more on travel in 2021 than they did before the pandemic. British revenge travellers are willing to spend more on accommodation, transportation and F&B, and will also take more frequent or longer trips. 

Trend 5 – Self-drive holidays hit the road

One of the benefits of taking a domestic holiday is that you can drive there. And now savvy holiday providers are helping families make the journey a part of the holiday, with an increase in self-drive, touring options.

Shearings, which usually offers escorted coach tours, has launched a collection of eight-day self-drive holidays, including 18 hotels in popular destinations like Devon, Cornwall, the Isle of Wight, Wales and Scotland – and all the properties are pet-friendly.

Meanwhile, the Great West Way, a touring route between London and Bristol, is to be promoted heavily in the coming months as part of VisitBritain’s ‘Escape The Everyday At Home’ campaign. The tourism body aims to encourage travel along the route and visits to attractions and towns on the way (both lesser-known places and renowned world heritage sites). 

Trend 6 – Brits look for “bucket list” experiences

The loss of liberty we’ve experienced during the pandemic has made many of us reflect on our lives. We’ve thought about all the places we want to visit and things we want to do once we get our freedom back. This is leading to a spike in demand for “bucket list” experience and “milestone” travel. 

According to a survey by G Adventures, 59% of people say that lockdown has made them want to travel more than before. As a consequence, those special trips that people have always wanted to do someday are getting hiked up the list of priorities. And while these include far-flung adventures, the trend also applies to adventures at home, like scaling Ben Nevis, wreck diving at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys or taking a luxury train journey through Scotland on the Royal Scotsman. 

Trend 7 – More advanced booking = more holidays

To counteract cancellations, many holiday providers and airlines have made more advanced booking available. This means holidaymakers have been able to push back their already paid-for trips into 2022. 

With travel next year sorted, Hays Travel say people are now booking their second or third holidays, reporting that they’ve seen a “big uplift” in additional holiday bookings. Many of these additional trips will likely be staycations, providing stopgap getaways in between now and when people can reliably travel abroad again.  

And with foreign travel this summer thrown into doubt, there’s also likely to be a surge in advanced booking for next year and beyond. Holiday providers need structures that encourage early booking, at the same time as offering peace of mind should plans get cancelled. 

There’s a huge opportunity for UK travel brands right now. If you want to maximise your success from these trends, let’s work together. Give us a call on 0161 448 8008.