Staycations: Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the COVID-19 pandemic infiltrating and altering almost every aspect of our lives, it’s no surprise that the future of tourism is likely to look a little different, too.

According to Visit Britain, tourism from abroad is set to remain at only around 28% of what we saw in 2019. Domestic tourism, or ‘staycations’ are set to increase by 51% from 2020, but will still remain only 56% of that seen in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, these dramatic figures have implications for both the tourism and planning industries. And there’s even more to consider than the effects of border restrictions; the events of the past year could alter public perceptions and consumer preferences.

For example, it is certainly possible that as the country regrows, some people might feel more inclined to swap their summer holiday abroad for a staycation, preferring to contribute to rebuilding the UK’s economy.

This could lead to an increased demand for holiday cottages, lodges and camping locations nationwide. With the government stating in their ‘Tourism Recovery Plan’ that they aim to “recover domestic overnight trip volume and spend to 2019 levels by the end of 2022”, measures are being put into place to encourage this growth.

So, what Does This Mean for Planning?

In light of the potential increased demand for staycations following the pandemic, certain permitted development rights have been altered, allowing the tourism industry to adapt to changing demands and stay safe with less red tape.

For example, permitted development now allows landowners in England who use their land as a caravan or campsite for 28-days per year to increase this to 56-days until the end of 2021, without the need to apply for planning permission. In Scotland and Wales, a similar approach is being taken, with Local Authorities instead being advised to take a “flexible approach”.

Other planning restrictions have been eased, too. In 2020, the permitted development right allowing the temporary use of land for any purpose was extended from 28 days to 56 days, or from 14 to 28 days for motor car and motorcycle racing. Though this amendment was set to expire on 31st December 2020, it has now been extended until 31st December 2021.

This means that businesses within the hospitality industry can utilise outdoor spaces for the sale of food, drinks and other goods, or to hold outdoor events. An additional permitted development right has also been introduced, which allows markets to be held by or on the behalf of a local authority.

Why are the Government Relaxing these Permitted Development Rights?

Permitted development rights grant land and business owners more freedom, allowing them to adapt to post-pandemic trends and increase capacity whilst social distancing. These new additions to the Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 also incentivise new developments which have the potential to boost the hard-hit tourism industry even further.

Tourism analysts have predicted that demand for UK holidays is likely to outstrip supply this summer, with many holidaymakers unable or unwilling to undertake foreign travel amid continuing restrictions.  In a nutshell it’s a good time to progress tourism development.


Related Content

If you want to know how Tourism and Planning are linked, take a look at our blog about Planning and Tourism: How do they go hand-in-hand?

If you’re planning a new tourism project, starting a conversation with the local planning authorities and any other interested party as soon as possible is advisable.  If you need help with taking your proposal forward CONTACT US for an informal discussion.

It’s important to base any proposal on a robust understanding of business needs within the tourism industry including a quantitative and qualitative assessment of future tourist accommodation and facilities.  We’ve produced a Practical Guide on Assessing Need and Demand for Tourism to assist you prepare a robust case when applying for planning permission.



The effect of the pandemic on the UK tourism economy