Holidays within the UK could be back on the cards from the beginning July as the country lifts its coronavirus lockdown.
Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he would ‘love to get the tourism sector up as quickly as we possibly can.’ British campsites have already been experiencing a surge in bookings after health officials suggested they could be lower-risk than hotels.
Currently people are allowed to drive anywhere in England to embark on a countryside walk or chill out on the beach, but hotels, hostels and B&Bs remain closed to holidaymakers under measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This afternoon Dowden said the Government has set out a ‘very ambitious plan’ to revive the country’s hard-hit tourism industry by the beginning of July.
He added: ‘Clearly, we can only do it if it’s safe to do so because I think the worse thing for our tourism sector would be to start, then see the R rate rise out of control, see a second peak that overwhelms the NHS that we then have to slam on the brakes again.
‘But, believe me, when we get to the point when we can have British tourism back, perhaps apart from the Prime Minister you won’t get a bigger champion of the great British break than me.’
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As several countries including the UK adopt policies of quarantining foreign visitors upon arrival, many people are considering a domestic break instead of a foreign trip this summer. Campsite booking website Cool Camping said Sunday was its strongest day for revenue since it began operating in 2006.
It also recorded a five-fold increase in the number of bookings during the week after Boris Johnson’s announcement about easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions on May 10 compared with the previous seven-day period.
The Prime Minister said July 4 is the earliest date for hospitality businesses reopening.
Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said at a Downing Street briefing that it is a ‘biological truism’ that being outdoors is safer than being in an enclosed space with people potentially carrying coronavirus.
He promised to give ‘careful thought’ to what steps would be needed to allow campsites and caravan parks to reopen.
Cool Camping marketing manager James Warner Smith said: ‘The demand for camping is clearly there, and with foreign holidays on the backburner for the time being, people appear to be looking closer to home for their holidays this year.
‘We also expect to see a lot more first-time campers in 2020. City breaks may look very different if galleries, museums and leisure facilities face restrictions, and consumers are, naturally, looking to the countryside when they plan their breaks.
‘With the usual holidays for some people seeming less accessible or appealing, we expect many will try camping for the very first time.’
Camping and other forms of holidays are still currently banned despite some travel restrictions being lifted in England.
The Camping and Caravanning Club has urged the Government to provide ‘greater clarity’ on how campsites can be safely reopened ‘with additional measures in place’.
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