According to the latest figures from national tourist board VisitEngland, over 104 million domestic overnight trips were taken last year – an increase of 9 per cent since 2010 and the highest rate since the survey began in 2006. Total spend rose by 13 per cent, representing almost £18bn.
James Berresford, VisitEngland’s chief executive, said: “This news, coupled with our recent Day Visits research which revealed that 1.3 billion domestic day trips were taken in England last year, clearly demonstrates that Brits are increasingly inspired to discover the fantastic destination on their doorstep.”
In terms of location type, 2011 saw an increase across the board – domestic overnight trips to towns, cities and the countryside were all up by just under 14 per cent each compared to 2010, while trips to the seaside were up by just over 11 per cent.
Business trips and trips to visit friends and relatives also showed recovery this year after a number of years of decline, with an increase of 15 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. However, neither trip type has regained the peak volumes recorded in 2006, before the onset of the recession.
Despite the good news for the country’s hoteliers, Berresford was quick to point out the challenges that continue to remain for the tourism sector.
“We have seen a double-digit growth in holiday spend and this is part due to inflation, and increased operating costs. We are fast approaching the Easter break, one of our most important holiday periods of the year, and the news has been saturated with talk of a potential fuel shortage, which could potentially seriously hinder a successful start to the holiday season.
“As an industry, we will only overcome challenges such as these, if we continue to work closely together, maximise opportunities that 2012, this special year brings, and support the development of one of the country’s few growth industries."
Looking forward, the number of trips taken is expected to be broadly similar in 2012 as in 2011; beyond 2012, the positive domestic holiday experience means that almost half expect they will take more domestic breaks than they used to before the recession.
VisitEngland also released the latest wave of its ‘Staycation Tracker’ research this month, which revealed that the majority of UK residents who took a holiday at home in 2011 had a positive overall experience, 85 per cent reporting it as either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.
BigHospitality recently reported that going out for meals and drinks has been revealed to be the second most popular reason for day trips in the UK with 250 million trips in 2011 helping to boost the worth of the day visit economy to £54bn.