UK staycations: caravan Cannes | Financial Times

Travelling will really be better than arriving for British air passengers. A new government decree is forcing quarantine for 14 days. That bad news might depress Britons hoping for a trouble-free summer trip to the Med. Banish memories of sleeting rain and cold picnics, staycations now look like an unstoppable trend for summer 2020.

Low-cost European airlines brought an end to mass bucket-and-spade vacations in the UK. Why drive for hours to a Welsh seaside when cheap flights to Malaga beckon? Yet holidays at home have recently staged a modest resurgence. The annual total rose 14 per cent in the five years to 2019, says VisitBritain.

One property fund, Darwin Leisure, has done very well from staycations over the past decade. It focuses investments on residential holiday parks typically furnished with static caravans. These cheap vacation options are perennially popular, as shown by the performance of the specialist investment manager. The net asset value of the main £500m fund has surged 2.4 times in the eight years to March of this year, and so far has held up in this latest quarter.

charts showing Holiday parks earn profits for Darwin but Center Parcs hashad problems

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, himself keen on sunny destinations abroad, has encouraged citizens to holiday at home this year. His government has set a provisional opening date of July 4 for the domestic hospitality industry. Months of potential summer holiday spending is up for grabs.

Tourists crowding Britain’s windy beaches and hills spent nearly £14bn last year. But even if holidaymakers avoid foreign trips this year the industry worries they may not return to visit local resorts. Last year’s total spending figure could fall by half, says the National Coastal Tourism Academy, which has been studying the data. Elsewhere, bond investors for the more upmarket Center Parcs have taken fright. The group, which rents out its holiday homes (often for weekends) in green spaces with lots of pricey add-on activities, has suffered from restrictions on travel imposed this year. Its long-term debt has collapsed from over par to about 86 pence on the pound.

Regardless of opening dates the travel and leisure business will no doubt suffer this year, as folks avoid crowding into enclosed bars and restaurants. Outdoor pursuits and accommodation close by may still benefit. After months cooped up in their homes, lockdown fatigue has set in. If the weather holds up, a surge in staycations will not only refresh holidaymakers but battered local economies too.

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