Yorkshire sees surge in staycation bookings amid vaccine roll-out and new holiday quarantine rules
Tourism businesses have seen a surge in staycation bookings for the summer months, according to tourism board Welcome to Yorkshire.
It comes after the Government announced new rules meaning that travellers returning to the UK from “red list” countries will now have to quarantine in hotels for 10 days.
Welcome to Yorkshire reported that it has seen an increase in holiday bookings across the region, which it believes is due to the uncertainty around holidaying abroad when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
It hopes that these bookings will help the Yorkshire tourism industry to recover, as the sector has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive James Mason said: “Pre-pandemic tourism in Yorkshire was worth a staggering £9 billion annually to the county’s economy, with the region’s tourism and hospitality industry employing almost 225,000 people.
"The coronavirus crisis has meant that this celebrated sector has been hit hard, and as amazing attractions and brilliant businesses continue to contend with another lockdown, it’s now a real positive to see the roll-out of vaccinations leading to a light at the end of the current turbulent tourism tunnel, with a real interest in staycation bookings for when lockdown lifts.
"The short summer period that we did have in 2020 demonstrated the huge demand for domestic holidays with Yorkshire proving to be the number one destination for returning and first time visitors.
"This suggests that we have an opportunity to benefit again when restrictions ease.
"Hospitality is certainly seeing a surge in bookings for the summer months, especially as opportunities for overseas breaks in the foreseeable future are currently uncertain. "
He added: "Yorkshire has much to offer and could be referred to as being a country within a county, its vastness includes vibrant cities, a spectacular coastline, stunning countryside, tempting towns, amazing arts, fabulous food and delicious drink, as well as a wealth of history and heritage.
"When lockdown lifts and if Government guidance allows, the thirst for staycations will be welcomed to kick-start the tourism and hospitality industry once more and encourage visits to attractions and locations, providing what will be a much-needed financial boost to this struggling sector in what will be critical and challenging times ahead.”
Tougher measures to prevent imported coronavirus variants gaining a foothold in the UK are set to be implemented by ministers this week.
This will include extra testing for all international arrivals as well as the quarantine in closely monitored Government-designated hotels.
Matt Hancock said that UK residents returning from red list countries will have to quarantine in an assigned hotel room.
He told the Commons: “We’re setting up a new system of hotel quarantine for UK and Irish residents who’ve been in red list countries in the last 10 days. In short, this means that any returning residents from these countries will have to quarantine in an assigned hotel room for 10 days from the time of arrival.
“Before they travel, they’ll have to book through an online platform and pay for a quarantine package costing £1,750 for an individual travelling alone which includes the hotel, transport and testing. This booking system will go live on Thursday when we’ll also publish the full detailed guidance.
“Passengers will only be able to enter the UK through a small number of ports that currently account for the vast majority of passenger arrivals. When they arrive, they’ll be escorted to a designated hotel which will be closed to guests who aren’t quarantining, for 10 days or for longer if they test positive for Covid-19 during their stay.
“We’ve contracted 16 hotels for an initial 4,600 rooms and we will secure more as they are needed. People will need to remain in their rooms and of course will not be allowed to mix with other guests and there will be visible security in place to ensure compliance alongside necessary support, so even as we protect public health we can look after the people in our care.”
Mr Hancock also announced new fines for international arrivals who fail to take Covid-19 tests, adding those who lie on their passenger locator forms face up to 10 years in jail.
He told the Commons: “People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk.
“Passenger carriers will have a duty in law to make sure that passengers have signed up for these new arrangements before they travel, and will be fined if they don’t, and we will be putting in place tough fines for people who don’t comply.
“This includes a £1,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test, a £2,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test, as well as automatically extending their quarantine period to 14 days, and a £5,000 fixed penalty notice – rising to £10,000 – for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel.”
He added: “Anyone who lies on the passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they’ve been in a country on the red list in the 10 days before arrival here will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.”
Mr Hancock said the measures will be put into law this week and more resources will be available to enforce them, adding: “I make no apologies for the strength of these measures because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation.”
A spokesman for Leeds Bradford Airport said: "We continue to keep up with and operate within the latest government advice, we will implement as appropriate to make any processes as smooth as possible for passengers
"This remains an evolving situation but we continue to work with our airline partners on their flight schedules for this year and beyond."