British travel plans are turning inward following the country’s Brexit decision and the fall in the pound sterling, and that is having a profound effect on important national decisions, such as my August weekend getaway.
My trip to the beautiful English county of Dorset is back on, some of you might be relieved to know. Well, perhaps none of you.
Back in February I went on a mini-rant about the cost of, and more importantly the value of, British bed & breakfasts, but I also touched upon the economic uncertainty of operating such a lodgings option.
I came up with nothing in my search back then, or at least for what I wanted to spend.
Life got in the way since then, and it was only a couple of weeks ago my wife Francesca and I decided we’d like to see if Dorset would be a possibility for the long holiday weekend at the end of August, which is the United Kingdom’s equivalent of Labor Day.
It is indicative of the health of the U.K.’s hotel business that we started off yet again dismally in our new search, and this time I wondered if the effort was made more strenuous by recent political events.
You might remember the outcome of the U.K.’s 23 June referendum on its continued membership of the European Union. We—well, not me—voted to leave the body that is headquartered in Brussels. This caused the pound sterling to collapse—although it is interesting to look at the historical swings and roundabout timeline of the pound against the dollar, as this graph from Fxtop shows—and experts predicted this would cause all Brits to stay within the U.K. for every vacation from now to the end of time.
I think all staycationers have Dorset in their sights. Hotels are booked, B&Bs are booked, camping sites require three-day minimum stays!
Why not? It is beautiful (so I’ve been told), with its Jurassic Coast of limestone cliffs and dinosaur bones; Lulworth Cove (more of the same); Durdle Door natural arch; the beautiful, imposing fortress at Corfe Castle; the mysterious isles of Purbeck and Portland, from where most of the stone gracing London’s better buildings comes from; the idyllic villages of Shaftesbury and Kingston, among others; and signs of Thomas Hardy and his novels at every turn.
The region also has villages with glorious names such as Fifehead Neville, Gussage All Saints, Hazelbury Bryan, Langton Matravers, Okeford Fitzpaine, Sturminster Marshall, Toller Porcorum, Winfrith Newburgh and, my favorite, Piddletrenthide, which is on a river called the Piddle, which is also known as the Trent and sometimes the North.
According to a 22 July news release from British motoring group Automobile Association, 47% of Brits are now less likely to take a vacation overseas due to the post-Brexit economic system, with routes to the Southwest of England—Cornwall, Devon and, yes, Dorset—likely to be the busiest in upcoming months.
A total of 58% of the almost 17,000 Brits surveyed said they still intended to vacation abroad, but I wonder how many of those trips are packages and were booked before the Brexit referendum?
The AA also reports Brits who live in the Southwest are equally unlikely to update their passports, and I assume that to my discomfort they have decided not only to staycation but staycation in their own region.
According to national tourism body VisitBritain, in the first quarter of 2016 domestic tourism roomnights increased by 2.02% to just short of 60 million and expenditure rose 0.97% to approximately £4.3 billion ($5.6 billion). The average length of stay increased, too, from 2.49 nights per trip to 2.56.
Perhaps the next quarter might show roomnights and length of stay further increase and expenditure down, or spending up if guests suddenly become more determined to enjoy themselves and forget they could instead be drinking coconut cocktails on the Costa del Sol.
But hurrah! It took some time while watching hours of Laura Trott and Jason Kenny cycling to gold around the Olympic Games velodrome, but we found a place to stay in Dorset. No doubt I will blog later on what will be my debut Airbnb stay, although I could squirm out of this dubious honor by stating it is my wife’s account, not mine.
But it is in a village called Winterborne Stickland, close to Lower and Higher Ansty and not too far from Affpuddle, so all is well.
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