Boom in Yorkshire’s tourism sector as millions ‘staycation’

MILLIONS of Britons have fallen back in love with holidaying at home, as the traditional family holiday makes a booming resurgence.

Scarborough's South Bay beach. Below: Holmfirth and Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Gary Verity
Scarborough's South Bay beach. Below: Holmfirth and Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Gary Verity

And Yorkshire and the Humber is far exceeding other parts of England in the tourism stakes - with visits in April, the most recent figures available, up 41 per cent on the previous year, compared with 10 per cent nationally. Bednights for April were up 86 per cent, compared with 15 per cent nationally, and tourist spend up 4.5 per cent, according to VisitEngland.

A generation of parents are now revisiting childhood holiday haunts as the convenience of the ‘staycation’ wins out over trips abroad, tourism experts said.

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Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said the figures were “extremely encouraging” and followed an excellent set of results for international visitors for 2013, including a 35 per cent rise in international spend.

Jackson Bridge, Holmfirth

He said: “The emergence of the staycation is meaning more and more people are falling in love with Yorkshire and swapping our county for destinations abroad. There are many visitors who are perhaps rediscovering it too, whether it be rekindling memories and returning to childhood holiday locations, or those that are now proudly showcasing their home county to friends and family from further afield following the success that was the Yorkshire Grand Départ.”

VisitEngland said 3.8m domestic holiday trips were taken in England by Britons in April, boosted by the late Easter holidays and mild weather.

The ‘staycation’ has soared over the past five years, it said, something it is confident will continue as accommodation providers report strong bookings for the rest of the school holiday period.

The figures also show long-term growth in the region’s tourism industry - up 14 per cent in the year to April.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Gary Verity

A spokesperson said: “It shows Yorkshire’s strength as a popular holiday destination with so much on offer. The fantastic coverage and profile around the Grand Depart can only help to continue this trend.”

Bookings at Holme Valley Camping and Caravan Park in Holmfirth were up 50 per cent in April, and the ‘Tour de France’ effect is also showing, with increased visitors since the Grand Depart - most of whom travel from less than 90 minutes away.

Owner Naomi Humphries, whose family have run the park since 1980, said: “People see travelling as a waste of their time off.

“Staying at home is a cheaper way to holiday and they get to go away more regularly.”

It encourages families to leave iPads and electronic devices at home and take part in more traditional activities like nature trails and bike rides, to give children a holiday like “what their parents might have experienced”.

The traditional family holiday is continuing to draw in families to the coast, Janet Deacon, tourism manager at Scarborough Borough Council said, with parents taking their children to attractions they visited in their youth, like the Open Air Theatre, which re-opened after more than 20 years in 2010, and the Naval Warfare attraction at Peasholm Park.

She said: “The traditional family holiday is definitely having a resurgence.

“People have been looking for more economical trips - the caravan sites are booming.”