TWO generations after cheap charter flights opened up the Spanish Costas to price-conscious tourists, the smart money has moved over to stay-at-home holidays, a leading travel guide concludes today.
As a result, the limestone pavement above Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales and the 40,000 basalt columns that make up the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland could soon echo to the sound of more footfall than the Avenue de Andalucía.
The two locations are now among the best value destinations in the world, according to Lonely Planet. A combination of concerted marketing and the collapse in the value of the pound in the wake of Brexit has contributed to their appeal, say the guide’s editors.
They say that while the politicians argue, holidaymakers from overseas should “reap the rewards” of currency exchange rates.
Sterling is down 14 per cent against the euro and 11 per cent against the dollar compared to the prices before last year’s referendum. The latest edition of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel advises readers to “make the exchange rate work even harder” by heading to Yorkshire, Devon, Cornwall, Bath and Edinburgh.
It says: “The most likely scenario is that the UK stays affordable to international visitors - at least until a true picture of the post-Brexit landscape emerges.”
The guide singles out Yorkshire and Belfast, where the coast around Giant’s Causeway is ranked the number one region in the world to visit in 2018.
The city is “full of hip neighbourhoods that burst with bars, restaurants and venues to suit all taste”, according to Lonely Planet, which adds that the coastline has “timeless beauty” and “high-grade distractions” such as golf, whiskey and famous rocks.
Even London, which the guide says is “not traditionally a paradise for frugal adventurers”, is now considered a value-for-money destination,
The guide uses the timber-framed 15th century buildings of York’s Shambles to illustrate what it calls Britain’s “big ticket” cities.
However, the city features only second in the list of Yorkshire’s most popular free and paid-for attractions. Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery is the top free venue and the Flamingo Land theme park the biggest private draw.
Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of the tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “The region can offer a truly diverse, exciting and inspiring holiday and the current climate may well mean we’ll be welcoming more visitors to explore this wonderful county.”
Lonely Planet’s destination editor for Britain and Ireland, James Smart, said: “While the value of the pound hasn’t been great news for British travellers, it has been a great boost for people looking to visit the UK and we expect this to continue next year.
“New galleries and theatres, rehoused historic attractions and thoroughly modern opportunities for adventure combine with classic sights to make the UK a brilliant destination for both staycationers and foreign visitors in 2018.”
He added: “Belfast and the Causeway Coast topped our list of the top 10 regions because it is deservedly now recognised as a must-visit destination by travellers from across the globe.
“Belfast has put its troubled past behind it and is a city transformed, its streets packed with buzzing bars and great stories, while the coastline beyond boasts spectacular scenery and plenty of great diversions.
“The region may be famous for Game of Thrones but its many scenic filming locations are just the start.”
Other value destinations for next year are the Estonian capital Tallinn and the southwestern American state of Arizona.
Earlier this year, Lonely Planet placed Leeds at number five on a list of top European destinations.
A record 23.1m overseas visitors came to the UK in the first half of this year - eight per cent more than last year, according to the tourism body Visit Britain.
SCARBOROUGH’S cliffside railway, York Minster, The Deep aquarium in Hull and the Royal Horticultural Society garden at Harlow Carr near Harrogate make up the list of the most popular paid-for attractions in Yorkshire.
Of those, the coastal lift is the cheapest at 90p a ride, and the Flamingo Lane theme park, which tops the list, the most expensive at £37, according to Visit England.
The most visited historic properties in the county are Fountains Abbey near Ripon, Castle Howard, Whitby Abbey and Clifford’s Tower.
The National Railway Museum in York, Bradford’s National Media Museum and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park are among the top five free destinations.