British staycation boom over as bookings dry up

Holiday
Holiday

Holiday let booking prices are sliding as the cost of living crisis and the return of international travel bring an end to the British “staycation” boom.

The average rate booked on a UK holiday let fell by 5pc year-on-year in September to £157 per night, according to AirDNA, a data company. This was £13 per night less than in September 2021.

Travel restrictions brought fierce demand for domestic stays during the pandemic. In August 2021, the average price per night hit a high of £176 – a 32pc jump compared to August 2019.

But now the sector faces a double blow as holidaymakers cut back on spending ahead of the looming recession – and those that can afford it can not travel abroad again.

Amanda Stecker, who runs Unique Cotswold Cottages as well as Holiday Letology, an advice service for holiday let investors, said: “My clients are finding it harder to achieve the kind of income levels they were achieving this time last year and they are having to hold their nerve that bookings will come in eventually.”

Guests are booking later and hoping for last minute deals because of the cost of living crisis, Ms Stecker added.

In some areas, there is an oversupply of properties, she said. “More and more investors are turning to short-term letting to use the tax advantages that buy-to-lets no longer offer.”

James Maughan, of Group Accommodation, a website for large self-catering properties, said: “Last year, we saw UK enquiry volumes spike significantly as Covid lockdowns eased, with inquiries up 150pc compared to pre-Covid.”

Now, inquiries have fallen back to just above the pre-pandemic level, he said.

Instead, demand has shifted overseas. Mr Maughan said: “We have seen strong year-on-year growth in traffic to our overseas properties in 2022 compared to 2021.” Searches for homes in Portugal and France were up by 38pc and 36pc respectively, he said.

In Britain, bookings are starting to feel uncertain. Mr Maughan added: “Clients are booking properties much later and last minute, something that was uncommon for larger holiday cottages in the past.”

Nationally, September bookings were down by 5pc compared to the pre-pandemic level in 2019, according to AirDNA. Forward bookings for December to March were down by 10pc compared to the same period in 2019.

Bookings for October half term were largely up compared to 2021, but the prices holiday let owners were achieving for their properties were down or static in half of the 52 holiday hotspots tracked by AirDNA.

In the Bristol and Bath area and Brighton and Hove, prices fell by 17pc and 16pc respectively.

The drops were part of a wider trend across Europe as the cost of living crisis hits holidaymakers’ spending. Across the continent, bookings slumped by 16pc versus the pre-pandemic level.

Published by anthonyhayble

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