“There has been terrible demand for August, but I think it will continue,” said Ms Hughes, who runs a campground as well as vacation homes just outside the town of Betws. -y-Coed, which is popular with hikers. She added that customers normally ask for discounts, but now they are willing to pay any price.
Across the UK, people desperate to take a vacation after months of lockdowns and discouraged by the government’s sudden advice not to travel to Spain, have rushed to book what is left of the country’s holiday accommodation.
Some 14 million adults in Britain plan to take a vacation in the country before the end of September, according to a survey by VisitBritain, the national tourist board, released last week. While that is lower than the 22 million adult vacations to Britain that VisitBritain recorded between July and August last year, industry players said it was a very high number considering public nervousness about the pandemic.
Vacation park operators, cabin owners and campsites have been inundated with requests, putting pressure on resources that have been significantly depleted by months of closure due to the pandemic.
TravelSupermarket, the travel research website, said clicks to cottage vacations in the UK were up 274% in June from May and 235% in July from June.
“It was out of the ordinary,” said Henrik Kjellberg, managing director of Awaze, which owns Hoseasons and cottages.com, two of the UK’s largest holiday home operators. “We are dealing with almost triple levels in terms of reservations compared to what we would normally have at this time.”
The company received 1 million calls in July. Typically, they would have about 100,000 inquiries. Of the 1,632 cabins they offer in Cornwall, only two were left in August – and one is a yurt.
“All the uncertainty surrounding overseas travel is forcing people to book domestically and we expect it to get even stronger this weekend with the heatwave ahead,” Kjellberg said.
Such is the demand – and the lack of remaining accommodation capacity – that people have caused to pitch tents in rest areas, fields and national parks.
The National Trust reported that it had cleared 25 tents, 20 camping chairs, six inflatable beds and several barbecues from Dovedale in the Peak District over the past week, while around Buttermere, in the Lake District, it had recorded 118 illegally parked cars in a single evening.
Chris Millner, a National Trust ranger in the Peak District, said: “The volume of debris left behind is overwhelming and something we have never experienced before. Once people are done having fun, it’s like abandoning ship.
Just minutes from Mrs. Hughes’ vacation homes, Snowdonia National Park suffers from the same problem.
He had to recruit 100 volunteers to help park wardens and the combination of lost income from foreclosure and investment in additional panels, litter pickup and deep toilet cleaning cost him $ 1, £ 4million, one fifth of its annual budget.
At 7 a.m. last Saturday, the main road in Snowdon was blocked with 200 illegally parked cars.
“It’s really positive for [the] tourism businesses because they’ve been devastated, but the number of people is insane, ”said Helen Pye of the Snowdonia National Park Authority.
She added that dispersing visitors to lesser-known areas with fewer facilities was counterproductive: “When an area is well visited, you need a lot of infrastructure not to be a total disaster. . . In the last few weeks we have started to have problems with people going to the bathroom absolutely everywhere. ”
Prices exploded as demand increased. Mr Kjellberg said prices for August bookings had risen an average of 16%, with the company’s dynamic pricing system meaning prices were rising as more people booked.
Others warned of fraud while on vacation. Mike Bevens, managing director of glamping company Canopy & Stars, said he noticed that some of his most popular locations, already booked for August, were being advertised through “what scam social accounts look like” and warned customers to be vigilant.
Additional pressure on space came from people who transferred reservations earlier in the summer, when lockdowns were in place, as well as from those who canceled trips abroad.
Operators hope the surge in demand will help them recoup some of the £ 37 billion that VisitBritain expects the domestic tourism sector to lose in revenue this year.
In 2019, UK consumers made 93.1 million trips abroad and spent £ 62.3 billion on trips abroad, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
“Although the UK is only expected to capture 10% of travel [abroad] that’s a pretty big increase in the demand for stays, ”said Joe Stather, associate director of hotels at real estate firm CBRE. “This could lead to a regeneration and redevelopment of some of the UK destinations which have seen difficult times in recent decades.”
Ms Pye warned that parks and destinations would need a lot more funding if the stay trend were to continue: “Over the past 10 years, the number of tourists has doubled, but national park budgets have shrunk. half. . . In the long run, there is a big question: yes, tourism is good for the local economy and it depends on tourism, but there are invisible costs that we do not factor in by the minute.
But Peter Moralles, who owns 13 cabins in Northumberland, wondered if the “bargain” stay would last next year and beyond.
“It could work the other way around that all the international spaces will be open next year and people were thinking, ‘I couldn’t go last year. I will try now, ”he said.
Additional reporting by Chris Tighe