With less options for trips abroad this year following the coronavirus lockdown, the country looks set for holiday makers to choose destinations closer to home - and with so many tourist hotspots in the Harrogate district, the number of guests is expected to rise.
New data from tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire shows a huge influx in traffic to its website and points to increased interest in North Yorkshire as a holiday destination.
Last month, www.yorkshire.com saw traffic increase by 47% compared to April with 91% of visitors clicking on the website for the first time.
Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive James Mason said: “I have made no secret about the fact that we have so much digital potential going forward and this can provide valuable insight for the industry and key decision makers.
“We saw a big volume of organic impressions across our social accounts in April when lockdown really kicked in reaching 4,108,503 accounts in April alone, up by 24% compared to March.
“Our creative and digital team, in fact the whole organisation, has worked non-stop since Covid-19 struck. Our aim was to lead from the front with engaging, yet important, information for the industry.
“I think these statistics prove more than ever that Welcome to Yorkshire is a viable proposition, but more importantly has a huge part to play in the region’s recovery, both as an economy and tourist destination. The suggestion is that the UK ‘staycation’ market is really set to boom.”
The body has now started a new venture to aid tourism across the Yorkshire region as further lockdown restrictions are eased.
It is collaboratively working with the county’s business and tourism representatives on a robust recovery plan, titled ‘Reopen, Recover and Rebuild’ and looking at how destinations can reopen as safely as possible, preparing for a surge in interest.
Mr Mason added: “Ensuring businesses are prepared is of paramount importance, as the Yorkshire tourism sector is worth £9bn to the county’s economy and employs almost 225,000 people, but has taken a big hit as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
“Now more than ever, it’s crucial to work as Yorkshire Together to support a safe, sustainable future and promote all that it has to offer.”
Although no official reopening date has yet been announced, holiday businesses are hopeful that they will be able to welcome guests back from the beginning of July - with strict social distancing measures in place.
Visit Harrogate has also welcomed the potential for a boost to the area’s tourism sector.
A spokesperson said: “We’re all going on a summer holiday… but this year it will probably be a ‘staycation’. This is great because the Harrogate district has a lot to offer.
“Blessed with glorious gardens and beautiful countryside, a spa town, a cathedral city and historic market towns there is so much to enjoy and we look forward to welcoming everyone back as the district slowly starts to reopen.”
Accommodation providers across the district have said they are now gearing up to welcome guests as soon as they get the Government green light.
One Harrogate district glamping site has said it is making the most of the lockdown by working hard to improve facilities for when guests are allowed to return.
Strawberry Safari Glamping, located in Wormald Green, has been busy coming up with new ventures to kickstart the business when it reopens.
In a blog on the Visit Harrogate website, owner Claire Jones wrote: “We could not be more grateful for our wonderful property during this time of limited travel, our green fields and leafy woodland are bursting with nature, offering a calming influence during these turbulent times.
“Our future plans are to develop yoga and fitness weekends at Strawberry Safari, where groups of like-minded individuals can get together, staying in the shepherd’s huts and join classes each day.
“For now, we are working hard on the shepherd’s huts and the grounds to make them even more inviting for guests once we re-open. We cannot be more grateful for our beautiful North Yorkshire surroundings and are very excited to be going on this Strawberry Safari together.”
Harrogate’s Rudding Park is also preparing to reopen, with plans in place so guests can enjoy a socially distanced break.
Peter Banks, Managing Director, said: “We anticipate a significant increase in people taking staycations this year and there is a real demand with people wanting to know when we will reopen. Initial feedback indicates many guests are looking to increase their length of stay for up to five nights, as opposed to the usual one or two nights.
“Thankfully, at Rudding Park we have lots of space and a range of experiences, many of which are perfectly suited to social distancing and the outdoors. We are also working on some experiences for guests during their stay.
“We are fortunate that our restaurants offer lots of outdoor dining space and the private rooms at Rudding House are perfect for dining.
“The health and safety of our team and guests is our priority and measures will be in place so our team can work in confidence and our guests will be able to stay with us in confidence. At this moment in time, we are eagerly awaiting confirmation from the Government before we are able to announce a reopening date.”
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