Staycation brings a post-lockdown boom as resorts struggle to cope

After the misery of lockdown, staycation attractions are enjoying something of a boom.

People enjoy the hot weather at Blackpool beach
People enjoy the hot weather at Blackpool beach

Locations favoured by families from the West Midlands are busier than they have been for years.

And, while it isn’t quite business as normal, there is still plenty of fun and relaxation to be found for those looking to get away from it all.

Weston-super-Mare

Crowds of tourists have flocked to Weston-super-Mare, with car parks filling up early in the day.

Numbers have been restricted on the Grand Pier and large queues have formed at ice cream stalls.

Warnings have also been given for people not to get caught out by the resort’s notoriously fast moving tides.

“We’ve got the second highest tidal rise and fall in the world on the North Somerset coast,” a council statement issued on Twitter said. “This has caught many people out. Don’t be one of them.”

The resort is enjoying the influx of crowds after earlier locking down and asking people to keep away. Early post-lockdown visitors were blamed for a spike in cases that led to the town’s hospital closing to general admissions. But now steps are in place to bring people in, including free parking in the evenings.

The resort’s trademark donkey rides are running again and amusement arcades are open, albeit with strict safety measures in place.

Local councillor Mark Canniford said: “We must do all we can to support our local businesses and attractions and help them recover from the lockdown. We are hoping free parking will encourage more residents and visitors to enjoy our fantastic seafront and beach in the evenings, the wonderful sunsets and all the attractions on offer.”

People queuing for food as they enjoy the hot weather at Weston-super-Mare, as people flock to parks and beaches with lockdown measures eased

Devon

All roads appear to lead to Devon, either for a holiday or to travel through to Cornwall.

Resorts are reporting bank holiday levels of visitors on a daily basis. That is good news for businesses, but also a major headache for a county that has so far managed to keep virus infection levels very low.

Thousands of tourists and second home owners have flocked back to Salcombe, the well-healed resort known by many as Chelsea-on-Sea. The narrow shopping streets and the picturesque harbour which are now packed with sun-seekers. And the town council says the huge influx has also led to an increase in anit-social behaviour.

Mayor Nikki Turnton said visitors seem to “think they are in a bubble” and that social distancing is being ignored by a “minority who don’t think it counts because they are on holiday”. She added: “It’s like August bank holiday weekend every day, everybody is exhausted and overwhelmed. The businesses need the customers but we would just like a bit of respect back for the town that they claim to love.”

Roger Lidstone, who works at Bowers Wines and Spirits, in Salcombe, said: “People want to get away. It is a difficult balancing act as Salcombe as a town needs the tourists, but it has caused problems, especially in the evenings with people drinking too much.”

Anyone attempting to travel into Devon should try to avoid peak times – and that doesn’t just mean weekends.

One midweek day last week brought simultaneous traffic problems to a number of routes. There were huge delays on the A376 Exmouth Road and the M5, A30 and A38. The A385 eastbound, heading towards Totnes was jammed as was the A3022 in Torbay.

People enjoy the hot weather at Blackpool beach

Blackpool

Blackpool has seen the highest number of visitors this summer in 10 years as families travel there for holidays and day trips.

Director of Blackpool Tourism Alan Cavill said the resort is catching up for lost time as it welcomes the crowds.

He said: “Our best measure for numbers is our car parks and they are busier than they have been for 10 years.

“We’ve done better this July than July last year. Although operating below capacity, it is full every day.

“Normally during the summer months you would have a mixture of busy and quiet days, but now there is nothing else to do and people are booking in advance, every day seems busy.

“You might see a week of 6,000 to 7,000 people per day, which then drops to 1,000 per day. Now it’s 2,500 every day.

Northern Rail has also said Blackpool was the busiest location on the network as people aren’t using the trains for commuting but for leisure travel instead.”

He said that many families who had holidays planned abroad are opting for the seaside resort now.

He continued: “I spoke to some families who said they were booked to go to Canary Islands and they went to Blackpool instead.

“It’s definitely a family audience that are going to struggle to go to other places which will come to Blackpool.”

While Cornwall and Devon have attracted families during the summer holidays, Mr Cavill claims Blackpool will also see a surge in visitors during the autumn and winter, adding: “Our busiest week is October half term week as people don’t want to go abroad and they take holidays in Blackpool.”

People enjoy the hot weather at Blackpool beach

North Wales coast

Authorities spent weeks keeping visitors away from Welsh beauty spots during lockdown – and now have to cope with a huge influx as families rush to enjoy a staycation break.

Spells of hot weather have brought big crowds to beaches, often leaving piles of litter at the end of the day.

Police have been deployed to some areas, with reports of cordons and roadblocks to turn people away from crowded areas.

North Wales Police tweeted during the last heatwave for visitors to be aware of the situation, saying: “If you’re visiting the beach today please note that it’s extremely busy in some areas . The beach car parks at Harlech, Black Rock Sands near Porthmadog and Lligwy on Anglesey are all full. Vehicles are still trying to park so please find alternative routes.”

There have been calls for camper vans to be banned from parts of Aberystwyth as the promenade has become a parking lot.

Nearby residents say motorhomes have “outstayed their welcome” on the prom, and Aberystwyth councillor Endaf Edwards raised concerns including overhanging pavements, blocking paths with tables and chairs, and disposal of waste. Councillor Edwards said the issues have been ongoing since 2018 and have worsened after lockdown, and he is pushing for campervans to be banned from the parking area completely.

The owner of Llandudno pier, meanwhile, says some visitors to the attraction do not appear to follow coronavirus rules “at all” as large crowds flock to the town.

Adam Williams said he had tried his “very best” and spent thousands of pounds to introduce safety measures at the pier, but that it was also up to visitors to show common sense.

Concerns have been raised about the crowds on the pier and what some people have described as a lack of social distancing among visitors.

Mr Williams said he’s spent around £10,000 on signs asking people to observe social distancing rules. The pier also has a recorded message which is played every four minutes to tell people to observe the rules, and has a one-way system to guide visitors.

Mr Williams said: “There’s only so much we can do. We’ve tried our very best to keep people safe and it’s also up to them to use common sense. Some people try very hard to observe the rules but others don’t seem to observe them at all.

Tryfan in Snowdonia which topped a survey by hillwalking magazine Trail, with Helvellyn in the Lake District coming second and Wales' highest mountain Snowdon securing third place.

Snowdonia

Scores of tickets were given to visitors parking on roads around Snowdon in the days after lockdown was lifted. Main roads through the area were blocked and crowds jostled on paths to get to the peak of the mountain.

Weeks on and the influx of visitors continue – as well as their anti-social habits.

Soiled nappies, discarded barbeques and empty fast food cartons are among some of the items found in laybys across the national park by visitors camping overnight.

Vehicles are also parking overnight in narrow lanes close to other houses and residents in several parts of Gwynedd and Snowdonia have seen visitors use their land as a makeshift toilet.

As well as putting lives at risk by causing access issues for emergency services, illegally-parked campervans have lead to other problems over recent weeks.

Residents have raised their concerns with councillors and other agencies about the situation, which has exacerbated in recent weeks after the lockdown restrictions were eased.

At Llyn Ogwen half a dozen vehicles were parked up in a lay-by near the A5 overlooking the lake.

Asked why they were there rather than at an official camp site less than half a mile away a man, who declined to give his name, said: “It’s such a beautiful spot, watching the sun going down over the lake with a beer. Why should I have to move? I have the right to roam so why not the right to park and camp.”

Plaid Cymru officials in Gwynedd recently found nearly 100 camper vans in places where overnight parking is not permitted. There were at least 20 at Gimblet Rock, Pwllheli, 18 at Y Foryd and a further dozen at Porth Neigwl near Abersoch.

Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts said: “Most visitors are law-abiding and responsible and share the increasing frustration felt by local communities who have to deal with the mess left behind by an ignorant minority, unwilling to spend a few quid at some of our fantastic local campsites.

“I have heard several reports of human waste and litter left discarded and even fires illegally lit. All this has the potential to pollute our precious water resources, compromise public health as well as posing a big risk to wildlife and natural habitats.”

Mountain rescuers are being kept busy with call-outs this year now adding up to more than 50. Volunteers from Ogwen Valley were called to help nine friends with no mountaineering experience who set out to climb Tryfan, as well as a woman who fell from her bicycle in Betws y Coed.Paths to Snowdon are busy, but anyone hoping for refreshment are disappointed. The visitor centre is closed for the summer and the railway, which has very limited availability, is terminating early at Clogwyn Station.

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