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COVID-19: Staycation surge hikes up cost of seaside holiday lets


Holidaymakers face paying more for a UK seaside break this summer, with demand for staycations driving up the cost of accommodation by an average of 35% compared to last year.

A study by consumer group Which? indicated prices have been hiked in 10 of the UK’s most visited beach destinations, including St Ives, Whitby, Llandudno and Brighton.

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‘Great uncertainty’ around foreign holidays

Under Boris Johnson‘s road map for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions, people in England could be allowed to stay in self-contained accommodation such as holiday lets from 12 April.

Meanwhile, foreign holidays, which may be permitted from 17 May, are likely to involve restrictions and conditions such as COVID-19 testing and self-isolation periods.

It comes as Cyprus said it will let British tourists who have had both COVID vaccination doses into the country without restrictions from 1 May.

However, the continuing uncertainty over travel abroad has led many people to book domestic holidays this year – driving up the price.

Researchers from Which? looked at prices for a total of 15 properties on accommodation booking platforms Airbnb and Vrbo.

They found the cost of stays in July and August is typically 35% higher now than if the equivalent dates last summer were booked during May and June 2020.

A snapshot of price increases by location from summer 2020 to 2021:

Brighton: £53 per night – £127 per night (140%)

Eastbourne: £409 for seven nights – £696 (70%)

St Ives: £860 for seven nights – £1,263 (47%)

Llandudno: £427 for seven nights – £596 (40%)

Bournemouth: £722 for seven nights – £958 (33%)

Swanage: £652 for seven nights – £840 (29%)

Scarborough: £609 for seven nights – £693 (14%)

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Hancock booked holiday amid ‘uncertainty’

A one-bedroom maisonette in Brighton had the largest mark-up, increasing in price from £53 per night to £127 per night – an increase of 140%.

The cost of a one-week stay at a property in Llandudno has risen from £427 to £596, while seven nights in a property in St Ives has gone from £860 to £1,263.

However, some price rises were more modest, with a one-bedroom cottage in Scarborough just 7% more expensive this summer.

Hosts on Airbnb set the prices and cleaning fees for properties listed on the platform, and the firm said the price increases highlighted by Which? were “isolated examples”.

Vrbo said it “does not set, change or influence the property prices a host chooses”, adding that holidaymakers agree to prices before they book.

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Which? is encouraging consumers booking a staycation to choose an accommodation provider that has committed to offering full cash refunds or no-fee rebooking if a trip cannot go ahead due to coronavirus.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Many holidaymakers are looking forward to finally going to the seaside this summer, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that high demand has seen prices for some destinations shoot up too.

“If people are prepared to pay more for their summer holidays this year, it’s essential that they know their money will be protected or returned to them without hassle in the event they cannot travel as planned.

“Make sure you choose a provider that offers fair and flexible booking terms, so you won’t be left chasing a refund if something goes wrong.”



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