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88% of people won’t be travelling abroad in 2021 with Covid, refund rejections and quarantine the main concerns

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yellow shovel half buried on sand near the ocean

Research by Hoo, the hotel room offer platform, has found just 12% of people plan to book a holiday abroad this year, as Covid continues to cause havoc for the travel industry. 

With 58.7 million of heading abroad on holiday in 2019, a 88% reduction in demand could see this figure fall to just 7m in 2021.

Hoo surveyed over 2,000 people on their holiday plans for the year ahead, as well as the driving factors behind their decision and their thoughts on government travel restrictions.

Hoo asked if they currently plan to book a holiday this year, with the results showing just 12% of people plan to do so. 10% are planning one or two trips, with just 2% aiming to get away three to five times.

Perhaps predictably, Covid is the driving factor behind holidaymaker concerns in 2021. 19% of people stated that having to cancel a holiday due to Covid restrictions was the biggest concern, with a further 19% stating that not being able to get a refund if they did have to cancel was stopping them from booking.

Having to quarantine while on holiday and actually catching the virus were the next most prominent concerns for 17% of UK holidaymakers while quarantining on their return to the UK concerned 15%. 

While the government has largely been criticised for its handling of the current pandemic, most recently on their intentions to charge those entering the country to stay at one of their quarantine hotels, the vast majority of UK holidaymakers don’t believe rules should be relaxed.

87% of those asked didn’t believe that government rules around travel should be relaxed while 80% also thought that quarantine hotels are a good idea.

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Very few of us are planning on jetting off on foreign holidays this year (Image: Anna Shvets / Pexels.com)

Hoo Co-founder, Adrian Murdock, commented: “Despite hopes of lockdown easing in the spring, it looks as though many will refrain from making plans to travel abroad this year.

In addition to the threat of Covid itself, there are a whole host of other issues to consider when looking to go abroad, from testing to quarantine, cancellations and refund issues to name but a few.

With new strains of the virus also causing concern, it’s understandable that many holidaymakers just don’t want to commit to something this year.

Of course, this falling demand will cause grave concerns for those in the industry, having already suffered since March of last year.

While the current line from the government is to forget about a summer break in 2021, they will be hoping that the vaccine roll out and a potential easing of restrictions will entice more of us to take a holiday in order to help keep the industry afloat.”

Survey of 2,183 people carried out by Find Out Now (January 28th 2021).
(Lead image: Scott R / Pexels.com)

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Swansea

Swansea’s popular land train is back – and you can even take your dog for a ride!

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Taking your family for a day out along Swansea prom? Now your four-legged friend can join in the fun too by hitching a ride on the land train!

Officially known as the Swansea Bay Rider, the 72-seater land train runs along Swansea’s prom from Blackpill Lido to Southend Gardens in Mumbles giving passengers an incredible view of Swansea Bay as they travel along.

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Run by Swansea Council, the land train has been a feature of summer holiday trips for many years – whether it’s to soak up the sights in style, or hop on for a relaxing journey after a day of fun in the sun.

But did you know that dogs are allowed on board too?

The council has highlighted the little known fact that four-legged friends are welcome to ride the land train with their owners, as long as they are wearing a lead and are under control.

With more people than ever taking their dog on holiday or on days out, the land train is another fun activity that all the family can enjoy.

The Swansea Bay Rider is also fully accessible to wheelchair users.

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The land train runs every weekend from 23 April to 4 September, and daily during the school holidays between 30 May and 3 June, and again between Friday 15 July and Sunday 4 September.

The 30 minute ride from Blackpill to Southend runs 7 times a day at 10.30am, 11.30am, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm from Blackpill.

Return journeys from Southend are at 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm, 4.30pm and 5.30pm.

Can’t get enough of riding the land-train? How about becoming its driver!

Swansea Council are recruiting a land train driver on a zero hours contract for £19,264 per annum (pro-rata). Applications are open until 24 May on the council’s website.

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(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Money

Holiday Money Index reveals currency sales surge that confirms Britons’ intention to travel abroad in 2022

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Britons are buying holiday currencies at far higher levels than before the Covid-19 pandemic first took hold in the UK in Spring 2020.

The first Post Office Travel Money Holiday Money Index of 2022 covering January-March 2022 reveals strong growth in a wide range of currencies compared with the first quarter of 2020 and indicates that significant numbers of Britons intend to holiday abroad for the first time in two years.

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In particular, the extraordinary growth shown by currencies for Croatia and the Caribbean islands suggests these are set to be the destinations of choice for British holidaymakers.

Sales for most currencies have been accelerating since the start of the year and 14 of the Post Office’s bestselling currencies – including the euro and US dollar – have surged past their healthy sales levels two years ago.

The most spectacular growth has been for the Croatian kuna. After recording the highest Post Office growth of 52 per cent in 2021, kuna purchases have risen 10-fold since January and are now up 137 per cent for the first quarter of 2022 compared with 2020.

Caribbean currencies have also seen high levels of growth – most notably the Barbados dollar and Jamaican dollar, whose sales have rocketed by over 100 per cent since 2020. Big rises have also been charted by the Mexican peso (up 91 per cent) and East Caribbean dollar (+89%), which suggests that holidaymakers will be heading to resorts including Cancun, St Lucia, Antigua and Grenada.

Nick Boden, Post Office Head of Travel Money said: “We are used to seeing a spring surge in sales of the Croatian kuna, but the rise in March was unprecedented, indicating that Croatia is set to have another highly successful year. We have also seen an extraordinary rise in sales of Caribbean and Central American currencies in 2022. It suggests that pent-up demand is resulting in many Britons planning holidays of a lifetime to some of the world’s most aspirational destinations.”

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Post Office Travel Money’s fastest growing currencies comparison of two-year sales also shows that holidaymakers are planning trips to Mauritius (rupee sales up 45 per cent) and Dubai (UAE dirham sales up 67 per cent), the latter now fourth in the Post Office bestselling currencies chart (fact sheet table 3). The euro remains the most popular currency for British holidaymakers with sales in March more than double those in January. US dollar sales rose 85 per cent in March compared with January.

Reporting on rate movements, the Exchange Rate Monitor reveals that sterling is stronger against more of Post Office Travel Money’s top 30 currencies in 2020 than 2021. Sterling has risen against 16 currencies compared with April 2021 but is up against 70 per cent of bestsellers since April 2020. The biggest two-year gain of over 115 per cent is against the Turkish Lira, giving Britons over £268 more cash on a £500 transaction. The monitor also shows sizeable sterling gains of over 20 per cent against the Mauritius rupee, Costa Rican colon and Japanese yen since 2020.

In addition to measuring exchange rate movements and foreign currency sales trends, the Post Office

Holiday Money Index also reports on the cost of meals and drinks in destinations whose currency sales have grown most over the past two years and found a wide disparity of costs.

Prices in Marmaris, Turkey are far lower than in any other destination because of the weak lira but, leaving this aside, the other 10 resorts surveyed vary dramatically in price. Prices have fallen by 13 per cent since 2020 in Orlando, Florida and the £55.62 cost of a three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine and a range of four drinks (coffee, beer, coca cola and wine) is less than half the price in Barbados (£133.70).

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Long-haul hotspots Mauritius (£60.35), Costa Rica (£61.68) and Jamaica (£64.32) also look great value compared with Barbados, while in Europe, Croatia (£64.02) is reasonably priced. Prices in all six of the cheapest destinations surveyed are lower than in 2020. Although this is mainly because of the stronger pound, the falls in Orlando, Mauritius, Costa Rica and Jamaica have also been boosted by a drop in local prices.

Nick Boden commented: “Holidaymakers who are still considering where to book should take resort costs into account because our Holiday Costs Barometer research found big variations in the cost of meals and drinks. Turkey is cheapest by far but, across the Atlantic, price falls in Orlando make it an attractive choice – especially for families – and summer sun bargain hunters are likely to find Costa Rica and Jamaica the best value at less than half the cost of Barbados. Travelling east, Mauritius also looks great value.”

Conversely, the higher prices found in Mexico (Cancun, £73.37), St Lucia (Rodney Bay, £89.71), Dubai (Jumeirah, £115.81) and Barbados (Bridgetown, £133.70) are the result of an increase in local resort prices. In the case of Mexico, a 13 per cent fall for sterling against the peso also contributed to the higher prices.

The Post Office is the UK’s leading foreign currency provider, offering around 60 currencies for pre-order at around 7,000 Post Office branches or online at www.postoffice.co.uk/travel for next day branch or home delivery.

3,600 larger Post Office branches stock the leading currencies and around 7,000 offer euros over the counter without pre-order. These can also be ordered online for same day ‘click and collect’ at selected branches, next day collection at any branch or home delivery.

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Business

Work begins on £23million eco lodge development at Bluestone National Park Resort

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Work has started on a £23million investment of 80 new ‘Platinum’ luxury ecologically sensitive lodges at Bluestone National Park Resort, near Narberth, Pembrokeshire.

The development is the fourth phase at Bluestone which currently has 344 existing lodges, cottages and studio apartments surrounding its private village all nestled within 500 acres of stunning Pembrokeshire countryside.

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At least 250 jobs will be sustained during the construction phase and 100 operational jobs will be created once completed. Bluestone already employs more than 800 people and 65 per cent of its £6million annual expenditure is retained in Pembrokeshire through employment and using a local supply chain.

The company says the additional lodges will increase visitor spend in the area by £1m a year and Bluestone’s own impact on the economy by a further £1.5million annually.

The ‘Platinum’ lodges will be located with their private entrance, complete with virtual check-in. They will provide some of the most luxurious facilities to date at the resort.

The construction work will be undertaken in four phases over 18 months, with the first lodges opening in Summer 2023.

“This is another significant milestone for Bluestone, creating even more opportunities for visitors coming to Pembrokeshire. Not only will they enjoy high quality accommodation, but lodges that will have been constructed as sustainably as possible,” said Liz Weedon, Head of Projects at Bluestone.

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Timber and other sustainable materials have been used in the design and construction of the lodges in addition to other materials, heated by a sustainable source.

“We have worked closely with our contractors to ensure there is limited disruption to the local community or guests staying on resort during work. The location of the site combined with a phased approach will support this,

Liz added: “The additional lodges will provide an economic boost to the local area and economy through additional jobs, more visitors and additional local supply chain demands during and after construction.”

Special fencing has already been erected around the site to ensure there is minimum impact or disruption to guests staying at the resort. Road use around Bluestone will also be kept to a minimum with planned deliveries and careful planning.

The main contractors are SJ Roberts Construction Ltd, a Welsh construction company, who will be using local suppliers and contractors during the project.

Mike Sambrook, Managing Director of SJ Roberts, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the build contract for this fantastic development at Bluestone. There has been a huge amount of collaborative working between all members of the design team in preparation ahead of site commencement and we cannot wait to get started.

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“The timber frames will be manufactured by our sister company, Lowfield Timber Frames, at our HQ in Mid-Wales with the remainder of the supply chain being carefully selected to ensure a quality build is guaranteed and that programme and budget targets are met.”

(Lead image: Bluestone National Park Resort)

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