Caravans were stuck in a huge jam on the M5 this morning as more than 10 million motorists hit the road today and England’s beauty spots are braced for a huge influx of tourists after lockdown travel restrictions were eased.
The M5 in Exeter was swamped with camper vans heading to the coast as tourists made their weekend getaway on what has been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.
Traffic was also underway on the M25 in Kent as hotels, restaurants and pubs re-open with people being able to stay overnight or longer in England.
There were multiple reports of accidents on the M5 involving holiday traffic, with the Exeter-based HART ambulance team seen heading southbound towards Junction 31.
Approximately 6.5million Britons are planning overnight stays with friends or family, with around two million driving to campsites, another 680,000 heading to caravan sites and a further million to stay in hotels and B&Bs, according to research from the RAC.
It comes on the same day the popular theme park Alton Towers reopens with safety measures in place such as temperature checking upon entrance, as restrictions were eased to allow some leisure and hospitality businesses to get back to work.
Meanwhile, booking websites have reported an increase in traffic, with Booking.com seeing a ‘spike’ in searches for domestic properties and Virgin Experience Days having a 65 per cent month-on-month rise in visits to its ‘Short Breaks’ category.
But most will drive to destinations of no more than two hours away from their home, an average of 110 miles, according to research from car sharing club Zipcar UK.
The M5 Exeter was swamped with camper vans and caravans heading to the coast at Junction 30 this morning, as tourists made their weekend getaway on what has been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’
Traffic on the M25 motorway in Kent early this morning as hotels, restaurants and hotels re-open with people being able to stay overnight or longer in England as part of the next stage of the coronavirus lockdown easing
There were also multiple reports of accidents on the M5 involving holiday traffic, with the Exeter-based HART ambulance team seen heading southbound towards Junction 31
James Taylor, General Manager at Zipcar said: ‘Since the most stringent lockdown restrictions eased from 1st June, we’ve already seen a 36% increase in reservations for our Roundtrip service.
‘The British public are clearly keen to get on the road and domestic travel will play a vital part in boosting the economy.’
Plymouth and the Isle of Wight are set to be two of the UK’s big winners from the boom in staycations amid the coronavirus pandemic, while visits from foreign travellers continue to dry up.
New research from Colliers International has revealed that the hotel sector in Plymouth is expected to recover at a faster rate than any other in the UK as holidaymakers flock to the South West.
But it said that some traditional tourist hotspots, such as London, will be hard hit by the dearth of visitors from abroad due to travel restrictions.
Colliers’ inaugural Covid-19 Recovery Hotels Index also said that a strong rebound in domestic tourism was particularly likely to help the economy of the Isle of Wight.
Exeter, Norwich, Blackpool and Cornwall are also expected to recover more quickly, according to experts at the commercial real estate specialists.
Marc Finney, head of hotels and resort consulting at Colliers, believes that UK leisure destinations are less likely to feel a large impact from dwindling overseas visitors and large events.
Traffic on the M25 motorway in Kent this morning as ‘Super Saturday’ gets underway, with booking websites reporting an increase in traffic as holidaymakers looking to make their getaway within the UK
Traffic on the M25 motorway in Kent with one car pictured towing a camper van. Approximately 6.5million Britons are planning overnight stays with friends or family, with around two million driving to campsites
The M5 in Exeter, which was swamped with camper vans and caravans heading to the coast this morning as tourists getaway as hotels, restaurants and pubs re-open with people being able to stay overnight or longer in England
Traffic on the M25 motorway in Kent as ‘Super Saturday’ gets underway. It comes as booking websites report an increase in traffic, with Booking.com seeing a ‘spike’ in searches for domestic properties
‘So good news in the short-term for traditional British seaside resorts such as Blackpool and Bournemouth, national park locations and Devon and Cornwall,’ he said.
‘This said, some of these markets within the top 10 have traditionally been very small – so even though they appear top of the list, the uptick will be small in absolute terms.’
The research said that Plymouth topped the index as 86 per cent of its visitors are domestic tourists, while it also believes its large proportion of budget hotels will make it more resilient to the financial impact of the current crisis.
Meanwhile, Visit Cornwall chief executive Malcolm Bell warned people to book ahead as bookings rise ‘across the board’ for the region, with web traffic for the site increasing by 20 per cent from the same time last year.
He told MailOnline: ‘We’re advising people to book ahead as there is a limited capacity, like campsites for example have reduced camping and so we have seen a rise in bookings. We would say to people to do their research, crack on and book ahead.
A child wears a homemade mask decorated with dinosaurs as she has her temperature checked at the entrance to Alton Towes today. The popular theme park has reopened with coronavirus safety measures in place
Members of the public queue in a socially distanced manner, with markers seen on the ground, to enter Alton Towers this morning, after the Government eased restrictions to allow some leisure and hospitality businesses to reopen
A member of the public has her temperature checked at the entrance to Alton Towers this morning by a member of staff wearing gloves, a mask and a face shield as the popular theme park reopens today
Members of the public, some wearing face masks, walk around Alton Towers as the theme park reopens with safety measures
A child wears a face mask as his temperature is checked by a member of staff wearing PPE at the entrance to Alton Towers
‘A lot of businesses are pleased they can ask for deposits and payments now – we’ve had an increase in new users on our website, exceeding last year. So people who were thinking of going to the Algarve or Tuscany are now thinking of Cornwall.
‘The strong message is you have to book before you come and also remember to book for restaurants and attractions as they’ve all gone to pre-booking.’
He added: ‘Bookings have gone up right across the board, different people like different parts so the rise has been everywhere.
‘If you ride down in a car to Cornwall you can manage your own security, with public transport you can wear masks but hanging around in an airport isn’t as attractive as it once was, so lots are deciding this year to stay in the country, particularly families and multi-generational groups.
‘Web traffic is back up to above last year, a rise but obviously we expect more as the weekend goes on. It is between 10 and 20 per cent up on same period last year, bearing in mind we’ve been 60 per cent down, so that’s a big rise.’
As Britons prepare to ‘staycation’ in camping sites, popularity has surged in DIY camper vans, allowing families to save money by converting a regular van and travelling cheaply around the UK.
Samantha and Neil Dodd converted a van in anticipation of weekends away, costing them just £3,000 and running off solar panels, leisure batteries and gas for hot water in the shower.
She told MailOnline: ‘We have just cancelled a holiday abroad for this year and planning on using it for weekends away here as we paddle-board and kayak.
‘We are looking to have more holidays in this country and over to Europe possibly next year.’
Meanwhile, the Isle of Wight is also expected to benefit from a significant number of UK tourists, with domestic tourists visiting the area for leisure typically representing around 90 per cent of visits.
Mr Finney also said that hotels which focus on their rooms could outperform sites which typically secure more revenue through other services, such as gyms and spas.
He added: ‘This is due to social distancing protocols which will inevitably limit the use of public areas and ancillary facilities in the short-term, including restaurants, bars, meetings spaces and spa amenities.’
Meanwhile, typical tourist hotspots London, Oxford and Cambridge take the three bottom spots in the ranking of 35 destinations, as they look set to miss out on their normal level of foreign tourists.
Colliers also stressed that the cancellation of major events, such as Wimbledon, as well as vast numbers of conferences and exhibitions, would particularly impact the capital’s hotel sector.