Scottish Highlands set for billion-pound boom – UK staycationers to boost local economies

Uig Hotel & Lodge

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  • 23 million Brits will holiday in the UK this summer – adding almost £31 billion to UK GDP, according to new Barclays research
  • Billion-pound windfalls will benefit the ten most popular holiday destinations, with the Scottish Highlands set to cash in with £1.135 billion worth of tourism business
  • With people in the UK found on average to have visited more places abroad than domestically, Barclays is encouraging holidaymakers to get to ‘Know Your Nation’ and explore the British Isles and support local economies

A SUNNY summer is forecast for the UK’s tourist hot spots as new Barclays research reveals that millions of Brits are planning ‘staycations’ in 2021, with the Scottish Highlands coming in as the seventh most popular holiday destination.

The news comes as Barclays encourages people to get to ‘Know Your Nation’ and explore the British Isles, with the bank finding that the average UK resident has visited more places abroad than domestically.

As Scotland’s holiday accommodation sector prepares to reopen on 17th May, the total UK spend on domestic holidays this year is anticipated to reach £31 billion, with 23 million Brits planning at least one staycation.

Billion-pound windfalls will be enjoyed by the ten most popular holiday destinations, including the Scottish Highlands which is set to welcome £1.135 billion worth of staycation business.

Table: Top ten UK holiday destinations 2021

Destination2021 staycation windfall
Cornwall£1.693 billion
Lake District£1.635 billion
Devon£1.534 billion
Yorkshire£1.462 billion
London£1.366 billion
North Wales£1.346 billion
Scottish Highlands£1.135 billion
Dorset£1.116 billion
South Wales£1.039 billion
Cotswolds£981 million

The pandemic has encouraged people to support the local economy, and half of British holidaymakers (48 per cent) are planning trips that will allow them to explore areas in the UK with lots of small independent businesses. Restaurants are also central to people’s holiday hopes, with access to a top dining spot considered to be ‘really important’ by over half of Brits (54 per cent) when on holiday.

Better together

The impact of the pandemic is also shown in people’s holiday preferences. After so much of the past year being spent in lockdown and apart from loved ones, being together is set to be a common theme of this year’s holiday season, with three in five Brits (58%) expecting a resurgence in family holidays.

And with pets considered very much a part of the family, 5.8 million dog owners and 1.4 million cat owners are planning to take their furry friends on holiday with them.

Over half of 18–34-year-olds (55 per cent) 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 per cent). That said, 45 per cent of 18–34-year-olds are looking to try sea kayaking or surfing this summer, suggesting appetite for activities remains high after weeks and months spent indoors.

Hannah Bernard, Head of Business Banking at 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 that 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.”

Owner of the Uig Hotel on the Isle of Skye, Billy Harley, 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 the 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.

“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!”

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