The Highlands are poised for a £1 billion-plus “staycation” windfall this year, new figures from banking giant Barclays suggest.
Barclays has produced a top 10 list of holiday destinations around Britain, ranked by their expected economic boost from domestic tourism as restrictions on foreign travel linger on.
The Highlands are in seventh spot, thanks to an anticipated staycation boost worth £1.135bn.
Cornwall tops the list, due to expectations of a near £1.7bn boost for Britain’s most south-western county.
According to Barclays, 23 million people around the UK will holiday domestically during 2021 – adding almost £31bn to Britain’s gross domestic product.
Cornwall and the Highlands are joined in the top 10 windfall locations by, in descending order, the Lake District, Devon, Yorkshire, London, North Wales, Dorset, South Wales and the Cotswolds.
- Cornwall £1.693bn
- Lake District £1.635bn
- Devon £1.534bn
- Yorkshire £1.462bn
- London £1.366bn
- North Wales £1.346bn
- Scottish Highlands £1.135bn
- Dorset £1.116bn
- South Wales £1.039bn
- Cotswolds £981 million
Barclays said the Covid-19 pandemic had encouraged people to support their local economy.
It found that nearly half (48%) of those intending to staycation were planning trips that would allow them to explore places with lots of small independent businesses.
Restaurants are also central to people’s holiday hopes, with access to a top dining spot considered “really important” for more than half of UK adults (54%) planning a holiday.
Hannah Bernard, head of business banking, Barclays, said: “We’ve been supporting thousands of hospitality and tourism businesses throughout the pandemic, signposting them to grants, helping them with marketing their services even when the shutters have been down, and providing millions of pounds-worth of funds through the government lending schemes.
“We’ve seen many small businesses adapting their premises to get ready to meet the needs of holidaymakers this summer.
“The investments they have made will, hopefully, be rewarded as millions of Brits support the nation’s hotels, restaurants and shops, providing local economies with a welcome boost.”
Barclays’ research revealed the average UK adult has visited more places abroad than in their own country.
Being together is likely to be a common theme of this year’s summer holiday season, following long spells of lockdown, with nearly three in five (58%) people expecting a resurgence in family holidays.
And with pets considered very much a part of the family, 5.8 million dog owners and 1.4m cat owners are planning to take their furry friends on holiday with them.
More than half of 18–34-year-olds (55%) are looking for a luxury break as an antidote to the stress of lockdown life, compared to just one-quarter of those over 55 (26%).
That said, 45% of 18-34-year-olds are looking to try sea kayaking or surfing this summer, suggesting the public’s appetite for activities remains high after weeks and months spent indoors.
Billy Harley, owner of Uig Hotel, on Skye, said: “The challenges of the past year have been surreal.
“But we are now beginning to see an uptick in bookings, and we cannot wait to welcome guests through the doors of Uig Hotel in the weeks and months ahead after putting a lot of work into ensuring we are Covid-secure.
“We were pleased to secure Covid funding through Barclays last year, which has provided important security to fall back on if needed.”
Mr Harley added: “Given the beautiful scenery, we are not surprised at all that the Highlands and Islands has made it into the top 10 UK staycation hotspots this summer.
“Here on the Isle of Skye, we are lucky enough to have the stunning Fairy Glen just behind the hotel, and the amazing landscapes at the Quiraing and the Trotternish Ridge are not far away either.
“Now we just need to cross our fingers for a beautiful summer.”