It will come as no surprise to some that staycations or holistays (holidaymakers staying in their country of residence for their treasured break) – are on the rise. Travel experts have been reporting on the increasing fondness for staycations since 2015, and the trend of staying on familiar shores seems to have accelerated.
Volatile exchange rates, changing visa regulation, political instability, a packed cultural calendar and an increase in short and last-minute breaks are driving interest in staycations, with 2018 set to pick up where last year left off. Low exchange rates are also causing airline fuel costs to rise, too, raising with it, the average price of a plane ticket.
The boost in domestic tourism benefits everyone in the tourism sector, your own business and the country as a whole. It has the same benefits as international tourism for hospitality businesses in particular but there are a few specific benefits that it provides.
International travelers tend to visit locations during high season, as it is a bigger commitment on a bigger budget. Domestic tourists can be more spontaneous in their localized breaks and can take shorter holidays more frequently, at any time of year. Public and bank holidays provide opportunities for travel that would otherwise have been too short to allow for an international trip. This means that a timeframe that may previously have been a notorious lull for business may now be filling up with bookings from domestic travelers.
While the notion of going abroad is very appealing, bringing a promise of new culture and experiences, it can be time-consuming and expensive to plan. Domestic travel can still be a convenient yet adventurous option for those that do not have the budget to travel overseas. However, even the most affordable venue will fall flat if they are not providing value for money. Without the magic of a new country, or “touristy” highlights like a pool or nearby beach, businesses must work harder to create memorable experiences for those who aren’t coming from further afield.
Research has also identified a strong sense of nostalgia in relation to the decision to stay close to home for that long-awaited holiday. Holidays bring holiday memories, often of good times long gone, perhaps even of loved ones long gone. It makes people feel they are connected to the past and to other people across time and it is an emotional, unifying phenomenon. Travelers can also feel very rewarded when they discover their own country is a tourist destination in its own right, each country with its own unique history and natural beauty.
I think perceived safety is also a factor playing on the minds of those booking their upcoming holidays. We can’t deny that recent terrorist attacks have shaken everyone across the world, with horrific incidents taking place where we least expect them to; Barcelona, Manchester, Las Vegas, for example. Domestic travelers, rightly or wrongly, are far less likely to feel affected by these issues when they are on familiar territory.
In order to capitalize on this global trend, make sure to localize your marketing and develop relationships with interesting venues and businesses in the surrounding area. Domestic tourists will want to experience an independently owned coffee shop, for example, not the local Starbucks! Not only will these commercial relationships arm you with fantastic recommendations to create fresh experiences for guests, it will help you to create content for social platforms and ultimately generate interest and revenue for the local community.
So will holistays continue to trump the traditional holiday abroad? Despite the growing appetite for staycations, I believe there is still a strong consensus that a holiday involves air travel. There’s something about the airport being a beacon of holiday excitement, the start of a long-awaited trip, verified – of course – with the signature photo of the first holiday drink. The reality is, we live in the age of a global economy and people must continue to travel across continents – whether this be for leisure, for business, to connect with friends and family. I will say that the current economic and political uncertainty affecting many countries means the trend for staycations will continue to rise over the coming years, but international travel will remain the popular choice.