Region's holiday firms say investment has turned staycation fad into lasting change in getaway patterns
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Holiday firms in the region say major investment has turned the post-recession staycation trend into a lasting shift in holidaymakers' attitudes.
Seven years ago, with recession fears rife, travellers began to steer away from venturing abroad, opting instead for breaks on domestic shores - leading to 2009 becoming the year of the so-called staycation.
Since then, experts have put their continued popularity down to fluctuating exchange rates, terrorism fears and the headache of travel - with Visit England recording that Britons’ foreign trips were still 16pc lower in 2015 than before the recession.
But far from a passing fad, Simon Altham, managing director of Lowestoft-based holiday company Hoseasons, said the desire to stay on British shores was now a “long term” industry change.
“It’s very easy to focus on one or two areas, such as what is happening overseas,” he said. “But it is complex - factors change and the staycation continues to gain momentum.
“Investment in the sector has been unprecedented and I think it would be wrong to think this is just a consumer-led trend.
“Customers are more discerning than ever and companies are investing to make sure they are giving them what they want.”
He said the convenience and flexibility of being close to home, and cutting travel times, was a draw for busy consumers.
The holiday firm has chalked up a record breaking first quarter, posting seven of its best 10 booking days ever during the first three months of the year.
A section of the local tourism industry particularly reaping the benefits is the Broads, with firms reporting a huge surge in demand for idyllic breaks on the waterways.
Greg Munford, chief executive of Stalham-based Richardson’s Boating Holidays, said: “We have certainly seen a rise since 2009, when the staycation buzzword was created. It gave domestic holiday businesses a chance to up their game.”
While Mr Munford admitted world events had an affect, he said the trend gave holidaymakers a chance to see the offering on their doorstep.
“When the recession hit people had to take a look at their holiday choices - and I think they were pleasantly surprised,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a big event to reconsider the options - people looked, they came and they liked it.
“Rather than being forced to stay in the UK, it opened up a new door. Then it was up to business owners to continue investing and developing and keeping people happy.”
Last month, family-run Broads holiday and day trip firm Barnes Brinkcraft said 2015 was the best year on record for boat hire - and, with bookings already up 5pc this year, 2016 looked set to top it.
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