Are staycations enough to keep the tourism industry afloat?

With international travel reduced to the bare minimum, staycations are the newest trend to emerge from the ongoing pandemic as people try to find alternatives to going on holiday. The term staycation has become an increasingly popular way to describe getaways in your own city or country, which have rapidly become a global trend. Many hotels have struggled with the loss of tourism from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns. Staycations and the consequent rise in domestic tourism have therefore been a useful boost to the tourism industry. However, although staycations have quickly become a global trend, the real question is whether it is a viable method to keep the tourism industry afloat.

As a sector particularly at risk from the loss of business during the lockdown period, the UK government introduced a plan in May to ensure domestic tourism would be able to recover to its previous position by July as stated by MP Nigel Huddleston . Yet according to the Financial Times, there are doubts as to whether it “will be enough to salvage a sector already on its knees after losing the key Easter and May holidays.”

Staycations create a stimulus for the economy as consumers spend money within their countries during their holidays rather than in other countries. However, the needs of domestic tourists are completely different to foreign visitors. Typically, international tourists may want to learn about the history of the area they are visiting, thus attending museums and seeing other artefacts. In contrast, domestic tourists may not have an interest in the area, instead wanting an opportunity to relax in a hotel and thus not spending on local attractions and institutions. Many individuals also currently want to travel but may not have the means to do so due to salary cuts and redundancies, and so people are being cautious with how they are spending their money. Therefore, while there are still domestic tourists providing an income, it is not enough to help the tourism industry meet its usual targets.

It also cannot be denied that a large contributor to the tourist industries was the profit made from airlines and as travel restrictions increase, the industry is struggling to recover in the same manner as other industries. The aviation industry will definitely face large losses that it might not recover from for a while.

The benefits of staycations have been sufficient to encourage many holiday providers to return to business and attempt to obtain some sort of income. According to Triparound, this is a positive step towards the recovery of the domestic economy, stimulating a return to action as it has been dormant since the outbreak of COVID-19. Additionally, this type of tourism is more environmentally friendly due to the significant reduction in pollution from transportation and waste. Resilience reports that “transport-related emissions from tourism represented 5% of all man-made emissions in 2016”, meaning there could be a significant reduction in emissions as domestic tourism increases.

While staycations are currently supporting the tourism industry, many speculate that it is not enough, potentially resulting in a catastrophic impact that will only continue to spiral due to the large uncertainty surrounding the resumption of travel. Staycations are not sustainable as they do not protect all aspects of the tourist industry, and cannot sufficiently recover the losses created by the lack of international tourism. According to the World Economic Forum, tourism accounts for 10% of global GDP. This figure will plummet this year, as local tourism simply is not enough to drive the huge force that is the tourism industry.

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