Tourism economy 'reshaping' needed to ensure year-round benefits after staycation summer

There needs to be a “reshaping” of the tourism economy, a shadow tourism minister has said, to ensure that businesses in coastal and rural spots can continue the booming economic successes of this year’s staycation summer year-round.

Many families across the country chose to holiday at home this year, as traffic light travel restrictions and expensive testing discouraged people from trying to take their annual trip abroad.

Coastal and rural locations across Yorkshire have seen a boom in visitors with hotels, camping sites and restaurants booked out weeks and months in advance,

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Leeds North West MP and shadow Tourism and Heritage minister Alex Sobel told The Yorkshire Post: that work needs to be done to help maintain those businesses over the quieter winter months.

People by the beach at Saltburn-by-the-Sea in North Yorkshire, July 2021 (PA/Owen Humphreys)

“If you work in the economy, what do you do between October and Easter?” he asked.

“And one of the challenges that nobody’s really answered traditionally, and one thing that I’m certainly looking at is how do we keep coastal towns and in places like Scarborough how do we keep them and they’re the people that live and work there in jobs over the winter, so they’re year round economies?”

Mr Sobel also raised the concerns of sectors of the travelling economy which have not been allowed to reopen fully for the whole summer: “A really important part of the tourism economy is event tourism.

He added: “So people will think about things like festivals and festivals took a huge hit this year [...] that’s a different sort of issue that government has to resolve.”

Perhaps one surprising benefit of the busy staycation industry this year, has been the business available to destinations which do not usually benefit from the tourism economy, as bookings and accommodation in the more popular holiday hotspots were snapped up quickly.

According to James Mason, boss of industry body Welcome to Yorkshire: “They’ve had their classic holiday their week away with the family, “but then they’ve also had those weekend trips, they’ve had those overnight stays. So we’ve seen lots of other areas of the county do particularly well."

Mr Mason went on: “Some people chose to go to more unusual places for stays or day trips, as they had more time available this year to explore the UK”, but added: “In some instances, they’ve been forced into it because other areas, the busier areas, the more common well known areas have been fully booked well in advance. So it’s a case of okay, begrudgingly, you may have chosen your second or third choice, but actually, you may have had a wonderful time you’ll go back there again. So that’s a good thing.”

“I think we’ve all realised the beauty of Yorkshire on our doorstep as a domestic audience,” Mr Mason said.

“But also people across the UK have chosen Yorkshire as much on their summer holidays. So hopefully, they will choose Yorkshire again, when international travel is back.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “It’s been a challenging year for the tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors, that’s why the government has provided over £25 billion of support throughout the pandemic.

“Our Tourism Recovery Plan announced a raft of measures to help tackle issues such as seasonality and over tourism. This included a £10 million voucher scheme to be launched by The National Lottery this Autumn to help encourage domestic tourism post the summer. We are doing all we can to help the industry build back better and recover swiftly from the pandemic.”