"With so much of this country to explore, holidaymakers increasingly opted either to stay at home or to top up their main holiday with another short break in unspoilt spots like Cornwall, the Cotswolds"
The Royal Wedding and a three-month summer heatwave showcased the best that Britain has to offer and drove a staycation boom in 2018, according to Chester-based Sykes Holiday Cottages.
The leading independent holiday home provider enjoyed a record year, with bookings up 36 per cent year-on-year and the number of travellers served hitting the 1.5 million mark.
A feel-good factor and sense of national pride – kickstarted by the Royal Wedding and sustained by the World Cup – combined with the summer heatwave and encouraged even more Brits to stay closer to home instead of heading overseas.
And despite the current squeeze on household spending, the trend shows no signs of stopping. Sunday 13th January 2019 broke records as Chester-based Sykes’ busiest day ever, with bookings up more than a third compared with the same day – dubbed Staycation Sunday – in 2018.
The lure of the South’s sunny beaches once again drew holidaymakers to the seaside, with Devon and Cornwall helping ensure the South West of England remained the most popular region for staycationers, ahead of North Wales and Cumbria.
The Cotswolds was the fast-growing region, with bookings up more than 50 per cent last year.
Graham Donoghue, chief executive of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said luxury properties such as the seven-bedroomed High Fellside Hall in Cumbria and pet-friendly breaks had been particularly successful during the year.
He said: “Last year had already got off to a great start, but the Royal Wedding and then the prolonged heatwave that followed really did show off the best that Britain has to offer.
“Together with the fact that the UK can offer everything from beach breaks to adrenaline-fuelled adventures really made staycations every bit as attractive as a holiday anywhere else in the world.
“With so much of this country to explore, holidaymakers increasingly opted either to stay at home or to top up their main holiday with another short break in unspoilt spots like Cornwall, the Cotswolds or Cumbria.”
Sykes Holiday Cottages now offers more than 13,500 holiday homes across the UK and Ireland, and employs more than 500 people.
With currency rates continuing to make holiday properties overseas more expensive, and growing demand from second home-owners in the UK to make the most effective use of their properties all year round, the number of new owner enquiries also rose by 37 per cent during 2018.
Donoghue added: “Prolonged uncertainty and turbulent markets have made other forms of investment less popular recently. We are seeing more and more people buying holiday homes here in the UK and approaching us to maximise the income that these properties can provide.”
Its latest full year accounts (to September 2017) showed sales rising 38 per cent to £37.5 million. Profit in the same period rose 28 per cent to £8.8 million.