Ever since the package holiday revolution of the 1960s and 70s heading off for two weeks in the sun has been as much part of the summer for many Britons as wasp invasions of picnics and the chimes of ice cream vans in the distance. From Torremolinos to Tuscany and from the Cote d’Azur to Cyprus we’ve travelled in our millions to enjoy the guarantee of good weather, delicious but still familiar food and a break from the 9 to 5.
But following the referendum that defied the Brexit odds and which is set to see us leave the EU could this be all about to change? Already many commentators are predicting that freedom of movement around Europe may become more problematic and exchange rates also started to plummet as soon as the referendum result was announced. There have also been rumblings from the travel industry including the low cost airline EasyJet who have declared that this promises to be their most challenging summer ever.
But for all this gloom it could certainly be a cloud with a silver lining for the UK’s many seaside holiday resorts as more and more people are persuaded to enjoy what, in recent times, has become known as a staycation.
Because while, for many, the image of a UK seaside resort still includes donkey rides on the beach and “Kiss me quick” hats over the last few years a quiet revolution has been going on, transforming these once drab and frankly quite depressing resorts into holiday destinations fit to compete with almost anywhere in Europe.
Take Hastings in Sussex for example. Following the destruction of its Victorian pier in a catastrophic fire in 2010 a brand new one costing £1.42 million opened in May of this year and within two weeks 75,000 people had already come along to enjoy its bar-restaurant and fairground ride – a good proportion of 325,000 target for the year.
Margate, on the Kent coast, has had a similar transformation which has even included a makeover of its Dreamland Amusement Park by the founder of the trendy Red or Dead fashion brand, Wayne Hemingway.
In the many seaside resorts which have seen a renaissance in recent years you’ll find that they have two things in common. Not only are they being reimagined for the 21st century, they are also retaining enough of the old and familiar to remind today’s parents of the fun and excitement of the seaside holidays of their childhoods.
Plus, while their memories of the seaside accommodation in the old days may have been musty old boarding houses, there has also been a revolution in where you can stay today. From beautifully equipped holiday homes to boutique hotels you can now expect to be surrounded by all the comforts of home. So from Scotland to Wales and Yorkshire to Dorset it’s no surprise that many properties are fully booked throughout the summer.
While this may not signal the end of Mediterranean holiday it certainly does mean the start of a whole new era for the UK seaside break – and one that’s sure to go from strength to strength.