The staycation industry has seen significant growth over the last three years, largely down to the coronavirus pandemic. This growth is set to accelerate as the fallout from covid continues to affect airlines’ staffing levels, causing flight cancellations and general uncertainty, and on top of this, inflation and the rising cost of living affect peoples’ disposable income.
Case in point, a report from 2019 by Frontline for the UK Caravan and Camping Alliance, about the economic benefits of holiday parks and campsites, stated that tourism is one of the UK’s key industries, with the country aiming to have a tourism industry worth over £275 billion by 2025.[i]
As the impact to our economy in recent years continues to take unexpected turns, there are new standards emerging in consumer demand and there is growing evidence that previously overlooked asset investments are here to stay. Luxury holiday parks are now ever present in a heavily disrupted tourist industry, and offer exciting opportunities for investment diversification. And the more you investigate, the stronger the argument that staycation properties are now a stable and long term fixture in the UK travel industry becomes.
The increasing rise in the popularity of staycations
The appeal of staycations rose dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic as international travel was off the cards. 2020 saw record levels of domestic tourism, but this was a market that was on the rise even before the pandemic kicked in. A report from Barclays on staycations in 2019 found that three in ten domestic holidaymakers (31%), when surveyed, said they planned to spend more holiday time in the UK in 2019 than they did in previous years.[i]
Although the lifting of COVID restrictions early in the year put overseas travel back on the map, Britons are still showing an increased desire for holidaying in the UK, due to the continuing chaos that reigns in airports all over the country. Earlier in the year, it was widely reported that hundreds of flights had been cancelled due to staff shortages and covid-related absences. This led to thousands being unable to go on their pre-booked holidays – losing money and time off – and huge queues and delays at airports throughout the country caused mass frustration and a loss of confidence in international travel.
It was revealed that this uncertainty and chaos caused many to want to stay in the UK to prevent the hassle.[ii] Numerous UK travel-related websites have noted they’ve seen increases in traffic and bookings this year. Luxury camping website Canopy & Stars stated traffic had increased around 15% week-on-week in April and was tracking 15% ahead of 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
A spokesperson for Sykes Holiday Cottages told I News that bookings were up 75% over the 2022 Easter bank holiday and they’d seen no signs of this slowing, with them also increasing by 35% in autumn compared to 2019.[iii] And, after the mayhem of this summer, I wouldn’t be surprised if these numbers increase even further next year.
With travelling abroad being so difficult for so long, a lot of people have sought alternative options in the form of staycations. Those who may not have previously considered a holiday in this country had no other choice than to explore more local areas, leading to an increase in domestic tourism. Now, more individuals are aware of the benefits of holidaying in the UK, so staycations have become more popular and will remain so.
Holidays abroad set to reach record high prices next year
On top of this, the mounting cost of living crisis has resulted in a large proportion of people having to dramatically cut their spending, meaning they have less disposable income. I recently wrote a piece for the Seventy Ninth Journal about how the dramatic increase in inflation is leading to a shift in motives behind investing, detailing how prices are rising at their fastest rate for more than 40 years.[i] This shows how the cost-of-living crisis really is affecting all areas and all sectors, including the travel industry.
Travel Weekly, just last week, reported that foreign travel felt the impact of the cost-of-living squeeze in August, with spending at travel agents and airlines declining 5% and 2.6% respectively, according to data from Barclaycard. However, the domestic travel sector performed strongly with summer staycations boosting spend on hotels, resorts and accommodation by 4.1% month-on-month.[ii]
Further to this, both the ongoing war in Ukraine and Brexit have led to supply chain issues around the world, driving up the cost of many things, including jet fuel, which was reported in February to have gone up by 68% over the past 12 months.[iii] Prices for international holidays are only set to increase into next year too. Jet2 boss, Steve Heapy, is among several tourism leaders who believe the rising cost of living will drive up the price of a holiday by record levels next summer.[iv]
This is likely to lead to a large portion of the population being unable to afford holidays abroad and to find themselves looking for alternative ways to enjoy a holiday here in the UK. This will lead to a surge in demand and bookings for holiday parks in the UK, like the three we are purchasing.
Holiday parks: a hot market
Savills’ recent Aspects of Leisure report discusses the holiday park market and its upward shift over the past year. When compiling market intelligence for the 2021 season, they noticed there was a notable upwards shift in the price being paid for holiday parks, as they prospered in 2021, whilst other industries suffered. Due to the pandemic, they have benefitted from increased demands for both the purchase of, and letting of, holiday units. Park owners also reported above-average occupancy levels during this time.
The current conditions were described as the perfect storm to drive up the value of parks. A lot of operators stated there was a shift in customer base as they become more appealing to higher socio-economic groups than they were previously. This has led to many owners improving their current parks to offer ‘luxury’ accommodation – much like what our new acquisitions will offer. The improved perception of UK holiday parks is a big factor attracting new investors to the marketplace and providing what Savills describes as ‘the strongest market conditions the sector has ever encountered’.[i]
As the holiday park sector continues to evolve more quickly than ever before, consumers benefit from greater choice, which serves to ensure the future of the industry. This research also highlights the fact that our latest acquisition is a sound investment that allows us to offer our clients a way to tap into this new market potential whilst diversifying their portfolios with inflation beating new investments.
The staycation market has been on the rise for years, and the covid-19 pandemic and its continuing effects on travel only serve to accelerate its growth. As the cost-of-living crisis hits the UK, I have no doubt this will push even more people to explore the many possibilities that holidaying in the UK can offer. For anyone looking to tap into the profit potential of this burgeoning market, I believe now is the perfect time to invest.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our range of investments and what we can offer, get in touch today to arrange a chat. You can drop the rest of the team and I a call on 0151 316 0392 or email us at [email protected].
[i] Pitching the Value, 2019 Economic Benefit Report: Holiday Parks and Campsites UK. Report for the UK Caravan & Camping Alliance, Frontline, Feb 2019: 2019-economic-benefits-report-holiday-parks-and-campsites-uk-final-report.pdf
[iii] Demand for summer staycations climb as Britons book UK holidays to avoid overseas travel chaos, I News, https://inews.co.uk/news/demand-summer-staycations-climb-britons-book-uk-holidays-overseas-travel-chaos-1594207
[iv] Demand for summer staycations climb as Britons book UK holidays to avoid overseas travel chaos, I News, https://inews.co.uk/news/demand-summer-staycations-climb-britons-book-uk-holidays-overseas-travel-chaos-1594207
[v] Investing to beat inflation: A change in motives for UK investors https://the79thgroup.co.uk/investing-to-beat-inflation-a-change-in-motives-for-uk-investors/
[vi] Cost of living squeeze starts to impact international travel, Barclaycard reveals: https://travelweekly.co.uk/news/air/cost-of-living-squeeze-starts-to-impact-international-travel-barclaycard-reveals
[vii] Holidaymakers facing flight price hikes in next two months as fuel costs soar https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/holidaymakers-facing-huge-flight-price-26287195
[ix] Should you book your 2023 holiday now to avoid skyrocketing prices?
https://thepointsguy.co.uk/news/cost-increase-book-next-year-holiday-now/  Savills Aspects of Leisure Summer 2022 Report: https://www.savills.co.uk/pdf/aspects-of-leisure-spring-summer-2022-final-2.pdf