UK holiday resorts and campsites are booming amid the Covid gloom, with record numbers taking breaks at home to avoid quarantine rules.
For the first time ever, leisure park giant Haven is extending its season until the end of November to deal with demand.
It is also hiring an extra 500 workers at its 37 sites to cope with those anxious for a holiday closer to home.
The company’s Gerard Tempest said: “With travel restrictions in place and previous closures to holiday parks, many guests weren’t able to enjoy the holiday they had previously planned.
“We hope that by extending our season we’re able to allow more people to get a break by the coast.”
The news comes as Croatia and Austria were added to the list of countries many will soon be unable to visit.
Families holidaying in Spain, France, Malta, Belgium and Holland already face a two-week quarantine on their return.
And there is also a question mark over Greece, where virus infections are rising.
Beaches around Britain have been overwhelmed by families desperate for some lockdown relief closer to home.
According to VisitBritain, only 15% of people took a UK trip in July and 51% of those who plan a summer break at home are yet to book.
But Parkdean Resorts, which has 67 holiday parks, is sold out for this month with September “going in a similar direction”.
A spokesman said reservations for October half term are already up 54% and added: “Our parks have been full in July and August, and we’re expecting a second peak later in the year with record numbers for September, October and November.
“With bookings for 2021 already coming thick and fast, it looks like people are falling back in love with the great British holiday.”
Butlin’s is also bustling, with some weeks sold out across all three resorts at Bognor Regis, in West Sussex, Minehead, in Somerset, and Skegness, in Lincolnshire.
Managing director Jon Hendry Pickup said: “As confidence to enjoy unrestricted travel abroad appears to be falling, the demand and trust in Butlin’s has never been higher.
“We’re experiencing record demand over the rest of the year and for the first half of 2021.
“We have offered a Covid guarantee to allow cancellation up to three days before a break as well as a lowest-price guarantee to provide a refund should a holiday later decrease in price.”
Campsites bookings for 2021 have rocketed by 500% while new sites are being added to
the books every week to deal with the growing demand, site Pitchup.com revealed.
Founder Dan Yates said: “With Spain and France shutting down in quick succession, camping seems to be the only type of accommodation that has been able to expand almost overnight to meet the huge additional need.”
Even enjoying a simple day out is back in vogue, with English Heritage reporting a spike in bookings for stately homes and sites such as Stonehenge.
Virgin Experience Days said getaways ranging from pampering sessions to adventure activities are being snapped up.
Boss Richard Hurd-Wood added: “As one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, it’s great to see so many consumers once again showing confidence in the UK’s hospitality and tourism sector.”
Coach firm National Express reported a big increase in people searching for seats to destinations such as Bournemouth and Devon and Cornwall.
Meanwhile, hotel chain Premier Inn is making a brave effort to entice guests by twinning UK landmarks with those around the world to encourage families to explore their own shores.
Slightly fanciful comparisons include Hadrian’s Wall instead of the Great Wall of China, Brighton Pavilion in place of the Taj Mahal, the Humber Bridge instead of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and Blackpool tower in place of the Eiffel Tower.
Website Pitchup.com, which has more than 2,000 sites on its books, has seen demand in August rocket by 116% compared to last year.
While around 6% of sites are fully booked there is availability thanks to pop-up sites, such as farmers’ fields – with an 84% rise in the number of new sites signing up this month.
But it has warned that demand for next week’s Bank Holiday will put pressure on sites.
Outdoors equipment supplier Halfords has said camping gear was flying off its shelves, with sales of gas stoves soaring by 300%, tents by 45% and camping chairs by 120%.
And according to camping specialists Go Outdoors and Gloucester-based firm Attwoolls, there has been a run on portable loos and showers.
Major resorts are enjoying a surge in popularity as people rediscover the fun they had as kids.
The season at 16 out of 37 Haven Hideaway camps is being extended to November 30.
Gerard Tempest, a Haven director, said: “Our 2020 and 2021 sales have been strong across all regions in the UK.
“Since launching Haven Hideaway in May, we have seen web bookings increase by 96% over a one-week period.
“Because of this, we know holidaymakers are still looking for the chance to safely get away during the pandemic and want to be able to provide that for as many people as possible.”
Butlin’s plans to bring the Christmas panto to its resorts for the first time as more families seek a winter break in the UK.
Vacation website Holidaycottages.co.uk has revealed that demand in Devon and Cornwall has outstripped supply while Under the Thatch holiday homes said its “premium properties” had already been snapped up for Easter, May half-term and July 2021.
Figures from quirky accommodation site Host Unusual show bookings for beach houses and huts in 2021 are up 234% year-on-year and industry body the Professional Association of Self-Caterers, which campaigns on issues of taxation and regulation, predicts a sell-out for the summer of 2021.
Its chairman Alistair Handyside said: “I think it is highly likely that there will be a shortage of supply in late July-August next year as many people still won’t want to travel abroad.”
Bookings for hotels outside London have increased by 67% year-on-year, with seaside resorts and beauty spots tops for families.
Industry website SiteMinder says there has been a shift away from the capital as people look to the countryside for a summer escape.
James Bishop, its senior director, said: “The reality is that after locking down for some
time earlier in the year, the call of the countryside or a coastal staycation has been strong since accommodation businesses reopened on July 4.”
Travelodge also noted an increased interest in coastal and picturesque locations.
Spokeswoman Shakila Ahmed said: “People are certainly making the most of discovering what makes Britain so great this year.”
Families have been flocking to cultural sites from Stonehenge in Wiltshire and Tintagel Castle in Cornwall to Queen Victoria’s Isle of Wight home, says English Heritage.
A spokesman said: “Since our historic properties have reopened, we have seen
lots of people taking advantage of our new pre-booking system to explore those heritage sites on their doorstep.
“Prehistoric stone circles, Roman forts, medieval castles and Victorian country houses are all immensely appealing to people at the moment, especially with their wide-open spaces and extensive gardens.”
Virgin Experiences Days said eating out, driving a swanky car and spa treatments were among the most popular activities.