July 4 has been bandied about as the date when staycations will finally snap into action, although there have been mixed signals from the Government.
Boris Johnson has expressed an ambition to reopen ‘at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing’ by then.
But trade body UK Hospitality believes this is all a bit wishy-washy and wants definite confirmation.
Tranquil: A view of Windermere in the Lake District. July 4 has been bandied about as the date when staycations will finally snap into action, although there have been mixed signals from the Government
Then there is the concern that two-metre social distancing is too much for pubs, B&Bs and some smaller hotels to operate effectively.
Whether that rule will change is still uncertain — and the answer could make a huge difference in Britain this summer.
There are also conflicting messages about how ready different regions are for tourism, which may make some potential visitors think twice.
Here is the latest from around the country, as tourist boards and hotels proceed on the basis that the July 4 ambition is realised.
NORTH EAST REOPENS
In the north-east, Northumberland and County Durham are slowly gearing up to receive visitors. Pictured is Barnard Castle in County Durham
Northumberland and County Durham are slowly gearing up to receive visitors, making (legitimate) trips to Barnard Castle a possibility.
Michelle Gorman, Visit County Durham’s managing director, strikes a note of caution: ‘I’m not entirely convinced that all of our tourism businesses will be ready for July 4.’
In Newcastle, tourism chiefs are even warier. ‘Research tells us that for the majority of people, October will be when they have more confidence to take short breaks,’ says Sarah Green of the NewcastleGateshead Initiative.
That said, many of the region’s top hotels are reopening on July 4, including Malmaison in Newcastle and Ramside Hall Golf and Spa resort in County Durham (although the spa remains closed).
There are tensions in Cornwall between those in the travel industry and some locals who want outsiders to stay away. Pictured is St Mawes near Falmouth
There are tensions in the county between those working in the travel industry and some locals who want outsiders to stay away.
The hope is that everything goes smoothly in July, although Tim Dwelly, the cabinet member for the economy on Cornwall Council, says: ‘We think it would be better to support tourist business with grants . . . rather than have a summer season.’
Visit Cornwall’s website puts it bluntly: ‘Unless you can visit a location and return within 90 minutes or so, you should go nearer your home for exercise or to spend time outdoors.’
However, hotels including Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes, the Scarlet hotel in Mawgan Porth and the Fowey Harbour Hotel are reopening on July 4. And properties listed with Sykes Holiday Cottages and Cornish Gems are booking up quickly for July, which suggests growing consumer confidence.
Historic attractions in Yorkshire, such as Whitby Abbey, pictured, will re-open on July 4
All Yorkshire’s National Parks are already open for visitors, while historic attractions including Kirkham Priory, Middleham Castle, Scarborough Castle and Whitby Abbey will reopen on July 4.
Some accommodation is reopening on the same day, including the historic White Hart in Harrogate and the Feversham Arms on the North York Moors.
Others are waiting longer: Grantley Hall in Ripon, for instance, will not be taking guests until August 1. Family-run Yorkshire Holiday Cottages is taking bookings from July 4, as is High Grange Holiday Cottages.
COME TO THE COTSWOLDS!
Foxhill Manor, pictured, and Dorney House in the Cotswolds will be back in action on July 13
Andy Parsons, chief executive of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, says: ‘Everybody is welcome to enjoy the Cotswolds, but we ask them to consider others, especially landowners and farmers.’
Cotswold Wildlife Park reopened on Wednesday this week. Hotels are staggering their reopenings, with Foxhill Manor and Dorney House back in action on July 13.
Holiday properties are being snapped up from July 4 from self-catering companies such as Independent Cottages and Manor Cottages.
LANCASHIRE LOOKS FORWARD
Blackpool Pleasure Beach is set to re-open on July 4 but visitors will have to wear face masks
Blackpool Pleasure Beach reopens on July 4, with mandatory face masks for visitors and rides cut to half capacity. Blackpool Zoo is back from June 29, with tickets available online.
Elsewhere, the Art Deco Midland hotel in Morecambe opens on July 4 and Northcote in the Forest of Bowland from July 29.
Rachel McQueen, of Marketing Lancashire, says: ‘We would recommend trying to seek out places that are less well-known. Lancashire has lots of hidden gems.’
All of the waterways on the Norfolk Broads, pictured, have been open for two weeks
The Visit Norfolk website says ‘now is the time to start planning to visit’. All the county’s waterways have been open for two weeks, making boat trips on the Broads an option for weekend breaks.
The Globe Inn in Wells-next-the-Sea aims to reopen on July 4 (and is accepting reservations from July 1).
Self-catering cottages are still available this summer with Norfolk Cottages and Norfolk Broads Direct, which also offers boat trips on cruisers.
POSITIVITY IN SUSSEX
On July 4, Brighton Palace Pier, pictured, is set to re-open but with a reduced daily capacity
Brighton Palace Pier reopens on July 4, although with a reduced daily capacity, and pier bosses say they may ask guests to have temperature checks before entering.
Drusillas Park zoo and theme park, near Alfriston, partially reopens on June 26 and hopes to have all its rides running again in July.
Battle Abbey and the site of the Battle of Hastings both reopened last weekend, although the visitor centre remains closed.
WEST COUNTRY READY
Wiltshire and Somerset are primed for a bumper season but Stonehenge will remain closed for summer solstice celebrations
HOW SELF CATERING PROPERTIES ARE PREPARING
Most holiday lettings are accepting bookings from July 4.
Oliver Bell, co-founder of Oliver’s Travels, says self-catering properties are ‘drawing up enhanced hygiene checklists and an extensive guide for owners on how to safely reopen’.
He adds: ‘We are encouraging owners to implement self-check-in and check-out through electronic key boxes or other means, and asking them to ensure no external visitors go to the property when it’s occupied.’
In Wiltshire, Stonehenge is closed for summer solstice celebrations which would have taken place today.
It looks as if Wiltshire and Somerset are primed for a bumper season though, with people not wanting to travel as far as Cornwall planning shorter trips.
Of the better known hotels, the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa in Bath is accepting guests from July 10, while The Pig in Hunstrete reopens its doors on Monday.
Cottage bookings are offered by Helpful Holidays and Toad Hall Cottages.
WELCOME IN CUMBRIA
Although there have been a few protests from some worried locals, the official message is ‘visitors are welcome’, according to Cumbria Tourism.
The Gilpin Hotel, a few miles from Windermere, reopens on July 4 and Lake District Country Hotels group is reopening the Cragwood Hotel, Merewood Hotel and Briery Wood Hotel on the same day.
Sykes Holiday Cottages says bookings in Cumbria are ‘pretty strong’.
SCOTLAND, NI & WALES
Stricter lockdown laws in Scotland and Wales mean that taking a non-essential trip can still lead to a heavy fine.
The earliest Scotland could be reopening to overnight-stay visitors is July 15.
While in Wales it was announced yesterday that the country will reopen to visitors from July 6.
Ahead of the rest of the UK, bars, restaurants and cafes as well as hotels can all reopen from July 3 in Northern Ireland, though not all properties are sticking to that date.
The Lough Erne resort in Fermanagh plans a July 17 restart. The Europa in Belfast is waiting until August 26.
THE EXPERT VIEW BY ROBIN HUTSON, CEO OF THE PIG HOTELS
There are two conflicting influences for customers making the decision whether to ‘staycation’ or not.
On the one hand, there is pent-up demand to stay in the UK now that getting on a budget airline to a crowded Mediterranean resort looks less appealing. When we reopened reservations last week, we took 800 room bookings on the first day.
On the other, there is a natural caution from guests regarding safety. So it’s our job as operators to build a trust that reassures them that we will be doing everything in our power to keep staff and guests safe.
We really don’t need a civil servant rule book. We get it. We are used to keeping everyone safe, we do it every day with environmental health, food safety, fire safety, licensing laws, security.
I think the Government should concentrate on keeping the streets safe and let the hospitality professionals look after our guests.