Last summer, after months of being cooped up at home, many of us hailed the return of the staycation and its nostalgic set of packed lunches, damp sand and visits to local museums.
This time round, with tight curbs on foreign travel remaining in place, domestic hotspots are likely be the chief summer getaway for a second consecutive summer.
The struggling travel industry was left disappointed last week when the government ruled out mass foreign holidays and urged Brits to go to “great places” in the UK over the summer.
Disappointment was heightened when Portugal – one of the few leading destinations on the green list – was downgraded to amber on Monday, prompting a rush from tourists to get home before the new quarantine rules came into force.
The news was bad for holidaymakers but much worse for the tourism sector. In response, UK travel agents warned that they are facing “absolute hardship and desperation” and the prospect of losing their homes.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of sector trade body Abta, added that current government support packages are insufficient to meet the challenges facing the industry and called for a full review of the government’s traffic light system in the next three weeks.
In the meantime, domestically-focused travel agents are flourishing. As holidaymakers scrambled to leave Portugal ahead of the deadline on Tuesday, many of those planning a getaway are opting for a staycation and have been warned to act fast to secure holiday spots for the summer.
While positive for the home hospitality industry, it has sparked anger and accusations that the government is sacrificing the foreign travel sector in favour of domestically focused industries.
Balancing the health and economic impacts is a difficult tightrope. The pandemic has repeatedly made winners of losers, and vice versa, sometimes in a matter of hours.
In the face of such massive uncertainty, sector-specific support remains the only certain remedy for the struggling travel sector.