Last Updated on October 8, 2009 by Mark Lavington
More Britons opted for “staycations” in the UK in first half of the year, providing a much needed boost for domestic tourism.
The number of holidays taken in England by UK residents rose by 14% compared to the same period last year.
That amounted to 2.6 million more trips and more than 9.1 million extra nights holiday, according to VisitEngland.
The recession and the falling value of the pound against sterling all appeared to persuade people to stay at home rather than head abroad.
But it wasn’t all good news.
With firms cutting costs, business travel fell, so the amount spent on trips of all kinds fell 1% in the first half of the year.
VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said: ‘England is back in fashion as Brits are rediscovering the diversity and appeal of the English holiday.
“Clearly there are businesses out there still suffering, particularly those in the conference and events market so we are certainly not out of the woods.”
Predictions from weathermen of a “barbecue summer” may boost figures further for the second half of the year, although the fact that the good weather never actually arrived may dent the gains.
The “staycation” phenomenon looks likely to continue into next year – UK self-catering operator Hoseasons said advanced bookings for 2010 were already up by 61%.
Hoseasons chief executive Richard Carrick said: “The last 10 years it has been a challenge for companies to adapt to a weak euro, low-cost flights and last minute booking trends. 2009 has given us the chance to turn the tide in favour of British breaks.”
Meanwhile, Bournemouth has been voted the most popular resort for staycationers.
The Dorset town came out top of 66 popular UK getaways in a survey from Virgin Money Travel Insurance aimed at finding the best family holiday destinations at home.
Loch Ness, home of the Loch Ness monster, was voted the worst, partly because of the terrible Scottish weather.
Other south coast towns that scored highly included Brighton and Portsmouth in second and third, Scarborough fourth and London fifth.
Car parts and bicycle chain Halfords also said it had benefited from the staycation with a big rise in tent and bike sales.