With hesitancy towards international travel high, domestic demand for holidays in the UK looks set to be unleashed as travellers look to holiday closer to home in the immediate term. With the roadmap for lockdown easing progressing at speed, UK-based domestic operators are set to benefit.

Following the announcement that the roadmap for easing lockdown will continue, lodging providers and attractions have received the green light to fully reopen from 17 May 2021 with some restrictions in place. After months of a long, miserable winter lockdown, many Brits will be desperate to escape and domestic staycations will once again rule this year.

Domestic operators will be set for a bumper summer as domestic demand will return at a quicker rate in comparison to international demand. GlobalData’s latest forecast shows that domestic demand will continue to rise in 2021, with visitation only down 17% on 2019 levels, compared to outbound travel which is forecast to be down 47.7% in 2019. The strong desire to travel closer to home and the wealth of experiences on offer across the UK will contribute to the strong rebound in domestic travel this year, benefitting the financial position of many tourism companies that have a presence in Britain.

Demand for staycations remains high

A GlobalData poll revealed that 43%* of respondents will consider taking a domestic trip in the next 12 months, higher than the 30% who would not consider travelling at all.

The robust levels of demand for domestic trips signal the potential waiting to be unlocked in the UK this summer. With the vaccination programme progressing at considerable speed, lockdown restrictions easing and case rates continuing to fall, staycations will reign as the winner for the summer. With fewer unexpected surprises, no requirement for a negative Covid-19 test for most activities and a higher degree of certainty, many UK travellers will continue to holiday domestically.

International capacity continues to be cut

As a result of consumer reluctance to travel internationally, some international operators and agents have trimmed or stopped selling capacity in the immediate term. On the Beach has extended its off-sale period from 30 June to 31 August, citing that uncertainty is too high. Earlier this year, TUI also pulled some of its expected capacity, reducing its 2021 operations from 80% to 75% of 2019 levels, again due to the high levels of uncertainty.

As uncertainty continues to suppress international travel demand, domestic operators should be poised to pounce on higher levels of confidence in the domestic market.

The UK has a wealth of unique holidays on offer

With so much on offer, UK tourists will be spoilt for choice, even without leaving the country. Many cruise companies, including Disney and Virgin Voyages, will operate domestic ‘seacations’ in UK waters, coach operators have upped capacity (including Leger and National Holidays), Intrepid has launched river adventure trips and airlines have expanded domestic air networks (including easyJet and Loganair).

With operators placing their bets on a summer of high demand and international travel seeming uncertain for most of this year, domestic vacations look set to dominate in Britain.

*  GlobalData Live Tracker Verdict poll of 1,160 respondents, live since 17th November 2020.