Demand for staycations and outdoor drinking and dining has soared in the run up to the next easing of restrictions on April 12.
This will allow self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets to reopen and hospitality venues to serve people outdoors.
With foreign travel unlikely to be allowed until August, the local industry is preparing for a busy summer and many campsites and holiday cottages are already almost fully booked.
‘Honeypot locations’ such as Cornwall are nearly booked up, says Simon Altham of parent company Awaze
The holiday home firm Cottages.com said two-thirds of its properties in coastal locations or with hot tubs have been booked for the week of April 12.
Simon Altham, of parent company Awaze, said: ‘Bookings are way ahead of where they were at the same point last year and the year before, but there’s a good range of options for those prepared to look beyond the tourist hotspots and try something different, for example central England.
‘The South West and traditional honeypot locations are booking up fast for summer, with Cornwall more than 80 per cent sold and Devon nearly 70 per cent sold.’
Mark Gordon, of the luxury camping firm Feather Down, said its summer bookings had doubled compared with last year.
He added the ‘almighty hassle’ of foreign travel when it eventually opens up would mean that staycations remain popular throughout the summer.
‘If it turns out there are no foreign holidays to be had or they’re very restrictive, I think you will find longer stays being booked towards the back end of the season as the summer runs out,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the country’s largest pub chains are preparing for fully booked beer gardens.
Demand for staycations and outdoor drinking and dining has soared in the run up to April 12
Mitchells and Butlers, which owns Harvester and O’Neill’s, said: ‘We’re looking forward to reopening and welcoming our guests back this spring. We have been pleased to see a significant interest from our loyal guests and regulars.’
Fuller’s, which has 400 pubs, said it had done renovations to accommodate outdoor drinking over the coming weeks.
A spokesman added: ‘We are taking a high level of bookings – people clearly can’t wait to get back to the pub, which is great to see.
‘We’ve invested heavily in our outside areas and we can’t wait to get our pubs open and welcome our customers back.’
But the British Beer and Pub Association warned that 40 per cent of England’s 37,500 pubs do not have enough outdoor space to make opening financially viable.
It was a caution echoed by some restaurateurs who said that despite huge demand, they would not be able to make any profit until they are allowed indoor diners on May 17. David Fox, of the pan-Asian restaurant chain Tampopo, said demand had rocketed ahead of outdoor reopening but feared many establishments, especially in cities, would be unable to cope.
Pub chains across the country are preparing for full beer gardens in the coming months
He added: ‘For some restaurants, it’s not feasible to open. We are working on opening with 5 to 20 per cent capacity.
‘People want to get out and dine outside so there’s a huge demand, but the challenge is meeting it due to the physical constraints.’
Restaurateur Andy Lennox said only two of his six establishments in the South of England would be able to open – and even then only at 30 per cent capacity.
‘Everyone wants to open up but we’re facing reduced capacity until May,’ he added. ‘The demand is there but we’ve had to turn away a lot of people.’
Thomas Kochs, of Tom Kerridge’s Bar and Grill restaurant in London, said it had been ‘fortunate’ to launch a second pop-up venue. ‘But not all in the industry have outside space or the financial support to reopen partially under current restrictions,’ he added.
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