Why British holidaymakers should finally be thinking of the return home

In the run-up to the divorce, British travel is down nearly 11 percent this year, with overnight stays in EU member countries down more than 13 percent.

As Brits seek out cheaper accommodations in places such as France, Germany and Spain, foreign tourist arrivals in the UK is down 7.6 percent from the previous year. The situation has become so dire, Chancellor Philip Hammond said in his first budget statement to Parliament last week that he would be encouraging more “staycations” in an effort to lower the country’s already low living standards.

But is it time to rethink the concept of a holiday in the first place?

There are concerns in some quarters that Britain’s comparative lack of sunshine has become part of its own attraction — a place to stay longer in the summer, enjoying special treats such as breakfast by the sea and fresh beer at night. Others have pointed out that staying in hostels is more financially secure than actually going home and that people are staying longer in countries that have traditionally offered a more luxurious traveler experience.

A recent article in The Times Magazine argued: “Would you pay £300 a night for an Ibiza home? Would you stay in an all-inclusive hotel for €400 a night on the beach? How about four months at a villa in Sicily for just €19,000 a year, with unlimited drinks, from the moment you first turned on the main steam? Or $6,900 for a complete break for two weeks in Ibiza?”

The resorts of a decade ago are even less dreamy, the magazine contended, given that the luxury hotels are virtually indistinguishable from schools, shopping malls and neighborhood bars. “You could go to France and New York and find as good hotels — some of the best in the world — for just £50. The types of hotels we know we can afford are more European’s Tuscany, Spain, rather than Ibiza, Malaga, Punta Mita. It’s a different mood.”

But the stakes have never been higher. Neil Wilson, a banking analyst at ETX Capital, told The Times that since the 2016 Brexit vote, the pound has dropped to its lowest point in more than 30 years, and tourism is being hit by several factors. One was the “prevailing gloom” about the UK post-Brexit, said Wilson, whose research found that the average foreign visitor takes four times as long as Britons to see everything they have booked. With most major flights to Europe canceled in the days following the EU referendum last year, there is also less money to spend than in 2015.

All those factors have conspired to make the holidaymakers here feel it is only marginally better than being back home, and this has undoubtedly changed the culture among many of the crowd. A pub in Brighton recently featured on Twitter a livestream of customers watching the football with a 20 percent discount on drinks. (It followed similar discounts by the likes of Starbucks and McDonald’s).

Adam Lewis, a comedian who runs a Dusseldorf-based video travel company, told The Times that the drop in the pound also makes it more feasible for British tourists to consume liquor in hotels and to go out to eat, areas that have traditionally been premium. “People are coming to Europe with one aim in mind, and that is drinking,” he said. “It’s been our little secret that we are the sick man of Europe in many respects, and this just confirmed it.”

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