Could Suffolk see summer 'staycation' boost?

People enjoying the beach at Aldeburgh on the hottest day of the year so far. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Staycations look set to remain popular this summer - Credit: Archant

Suffolk will continue to benefit from people taking "staycations" and holidaying closer to home this year once coronavirus curbs ease, tourism leaders believe. 

Last year, the industry benefitted greatly from staycations as restrictions put people off from going abroad.

Travel and overnight stays away from home, other than with support networks, are currently banned under the third national lockdown.   

But Harry Embleton - managing director of Air Manage Suffolk, which manages holiday lets across the county -  said that many people had enjoyed their first experience of a staycation last year and were looking to try it again once restrictions are eased.  

"There is a strong demand for the summer," said Mr Embleton.   

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"We are expecting a similar staycation demand to last year but it might be a longer season." 

Last year's season only began at the start of July, Mr Embleton said he was hopeful that spring bookings would play more of a part this season.  

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However, he said: "I think people are hesitant about booking anything pre-April."

The Air Manage Suffolk team

The Air Manage Suffolk team are hoping for a longer season this year - Credit: Lucy Halpin

David Scott, chief executive of Suffolk hotel chain Hotel Folk, was also confident about summer.  

“Current bookings remain strong across all our hotels, with many guests taking advantage of our flexible, no deposit rate,” said Mr Scott.   

“By remaining flexible, and while travelling abroad remains uncertain, current signs show that interest in domestic holidays is surging and we expect to welcome a greater number of visitors at our hotels this year.” 

Pete Waters of Visit East Anglia. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Peter Waters from Visit East of England said it was important to capitalise on the lack of overseas tourism likely to take place - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Pete Waters, executive director for Visit East of England, said: "Although the current situation is dire, we’re confident that if the vaccine roll-out is quick and efficient - then we’ll see tourism open up quickly in the spring. 

"After another lockdown, people will be desperate to get out and about again and we have the safe space, wonderful destinations and outdoor activities to cater for them. 

"It's unlikely that overseas tourism will return any time soon, so we need to capitalise on that and, in particular, attract back those people who came to us for the first time in 2020 rather than going abroad. 

"We bucked the national trend at the end of the first lockdown last July with visitors returning immediately in large numbers and we hope to see the same again. 

"Visit Britain are predicting the value of domestic tourism in 2021 will be just 68% of the 2019 pre-pandemic figure, but if we’re quick out of the blocks when it is safe for travel again then we’re optimistic we can do better than that. That will be a massive fillip for the sector. 

"The coalition of all our destination marketing organisations, led by Visit East of England, is on the front foot – we launched the latest stage of our Unexplored England digital campaign at Christmas and this is about building interest, demand and bookings for this Summer onwards." 

Center Parcs has extended the closure of its holiday sites, including Elveden Forest, due to the cor

Center Parcs' site at Elveden is closed until mid February - Credit: Archant

Other parts of the industry remain more cautious about this year, including Center Parcs - which has a site at Elveden.  

A spokesman for Center Parcs said: "All of our UK villages are closed until at least February 18, in line with government guidance. 

"It’s too soon for us to comment on whether we have seen an increase in bookings for later in the year."  

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