Covid takes a summer break – something only the rich can afford

Covid takes a summer break – something only the rich can afford

Next week, Sally Neuman is going on vacation. But instead of flying to a Mediterranean beach or heading to an idyllic cottage in the British countryside, she will stay with her daughter in London for four days.

Neuman, an NHS worker on the Isle of Wight, is considering taking her young granddaughter to a few museums. Most importantly, after 16 months of hard work during the pandemic, she is just eagerly awaiting a change of scenery.

“I haven’t been away since 2018, and I would like to take a real break, relax by a swimming pool. But a real vacation is out of the question, ”she said.

“Prices in the UK have jumped and the costs and risks of going overseas are too high. I don’t know of a frontline colleague who gets on a plane because no one can afford to isolate themselves on the way home if the rules change.

Neuman is among the thousands who are forgoing vacations this summer due to the cost, hassle and potential risks. Ministers urged Britons to vacation at home, but sharp increases in the cost of accommodation and limited availability have made this impossible for many.

Inevitably, it is the people who have been most in demand during the pandemic, the poorly paid frontline workers, who need a break most and least able to afford one.

This is confirmed by the data from the latest Opinium survey for the Observer. He found that among people in higher social and economic groups, 27% said they had taken a vacation in the UK and 8% said they had taken a vacation abroad this year. Among the poorest social groups, 17% said they took a holiday in the UK, and 5% said they took a holiday abroad.

A fifth (20%) of the wealthier group said they had booked a holiday in the UK for the end of the year; this figure was 13% for the poorest group. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the poorest group said they had not taken and booked vacations this year; this figure was 52% for the wealthier group.

Tourists visit the Tower of London. The price of UK vacations has increased significantly this year. Photograph: Joe Maher / Getty Images

“Only the wealthiest can afford to take a vacation this year,” said Rory Boland, editor of the travel magazine. Who? “It’s just out of reach for a lot of people.

“For many people who have worked incredibly hard during the pandemic, the first on their wishlist would likely be a week on a beach, here or abroad.

“Some say vacations are not ‘essential’, but so are the pub, a football game or the theater. A lot of people really deserve a break.

For those going abroad, the cost of Covid testing may turn out to be higher than the cost of flights. Fully vaccinated travelers in Spain must pay £ 91 per person for two tests when they return to the UK, according to Who? Unvaccinated travelers must spend £ 219 for four tests.

“Even at the cheapest price, it can be almost £ 200 for a couple. It’s a significant additional cost for a lot of people that just makes them wasted a vacation, ”Boland said.

The cost of vacationing in the UK has increased dramatically. Vacation rental data analysts AirDNA recently calculated that the cost of accommodation this year compared to 2019 was up 30% in Cornwall, 40% in Skegness and 27% in Pembrokeshire. Car hire prices have doubled in some cases, and train travel in the UK can cost two or three times the cost of a cheap flight abroad.

Until a little over 100 years ago, vacations were the preserve of the rich. Going abroad did not become commonplace until the 1950s and 1960s with the emergence of package holidays. Now, according to Michael Hitchcock, professor of cultural policy and tourism at Goldsmiths, University of London, vacations are “seen as a measure of a country’s economic and social development – they are associated with notions of prosperity and well-being. .

“The idea that we are all entitled to a holiday runs very deep in British culture. This is one of the things people talk to their friends and colleagues about. Children’s earliest memories are often linked to family vacations. For young people, going on vacation with their friends for the first time is a rite of passage.

The vacation accommodation industry was understandably keen to recoup some of the losses suffered due to travel restrictions, nationally and internationally, during the pandemic, said Marina Novelli, professor of tourism and international development at the Brighton University Business School.

“But what’s worrying is if what’s happening today is here to stay. When mainland Europe moved its currencies to the euro, prices rose dramatically – and did not come down. If today’s price hike persists, there will not be the recovery we all hope for. “

For Neuman, living in one of the UK’s top vacation destinations doesn’t diminish the need to get away from it all. “It’s absolutely crazy here – the beaches are bumper to bumper, there’s nowhere to park and the prices have gone up.

“Everyone needs a break, and the only time you can get one is when you’re away from home. To be honest, I don’t even think about next year – maybe the year after? “


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