Britons are gearing up to salvage what is left of the summer months with a domestic holiday. Campsites and hotels have been given the go-ahead to reopen their doors in July, with new social distancing and safety precautions in place to keep visitors and staff safe.
However, with COVID-19 still a risk without a vaccine to stamp it out completely, Britons might be concerned that travelling far from home could increase their chances of catching or spreading the virus.
The good news is, caravan holidays have been considered some of the safest forms of vacation to take in the wake of the pandemic.
This is largely due to the fact they are, as director-general of the National Caravan Council John Lally points out, “socially distant by design”.
Yet, not everyone will have the option to stay in a caravan, which could cause concern over social distancing.
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Luckily, Matt Fox, co-founder and CEO of Rest Easy Group which operates LateRooms and Snaptrip, has some top tips on how Britons can ensure they and their travel group stay safe while still having a good time.
“We’d encourage travellers to follow all government guidelines before booking or taking a holiday. Amongst this pandemic, the most important thing is that people stay safe and stop the spread of the virus,” he said.
One of the main things to focus on is hygiene.
For travellers, this means washing their hands regularly with soap and water or using hand sanitiser where soap and water are not available.
Many shops and transport services now require customers to wear face masks, so utilising these protective coverings where possible is also advised.
Mr Fox also stated that hotels and travel accommodation providers are responsible for ensuring cleanliness is up to scratch, too.
“Challenging owners and providers of all types of accommodation on their cleanliness and protocols to get peace of mind is crucial,” he said.
Many hotels have already outlined new ways they will change their layouts and boost cleaning protocols.
Dubai’s famous Atlantis, The Palm, for example, has assigned a dedicated hygiene officer whose job will be to ensure hygiene measures are being implemented and standards met.
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The resort now offers a discreet area for private temperate checking and is utilising specialist technology such as thermal cameras and digital infra-red thermometers to check for symptoms.
Meanwhile, hotel chain Hilton has made the decision to remove some “high touch” items from rooms to ward off germs.
Pens and branded paper notepads will be removed, as well as guest directories.
Other high touch areas will endure heightened disinfection, and a room seal will be placed on all doors to show guests their room has not been accessed since the cleaning process.
Similar seals will be put in place at caravan park Haven.
The caravan holiday provider, which has sites across the UK, has implemented the “Haven Caravan Cleanliness Guarantee” (HCCG) to assure customers that their stay is clean and safe.
Caravans will be cleaned for longer by teams kitted out in PPE.
The holiday homes will then have a seal placed on the door to show no one has entered the premises since the cleaning process.
Aside from cleanliness, though, social distancing can be ensured by avoiding areas at peak times.
Mr Fox explained: “Outside of more people choosing domestic travel over international travel with a particular focus on rural vs urban as the public look to avoid more crowded places, we think that people are going to look to book longer stays (with early booking data indicating this), perhaps combining holidays with working from a new location (especially those without children in school).”
This is why being flexible about your destination is crucial.
“We’d encourage people to be flexible in order to find the best break for them,” advised Mr Fox.
“Think of the things that they really want from a holiday – is it a beach?
“Is it to be close to a national park? Is it wifi to be able to work from the location? Is it price?
“Make a list of the things that are most important to you and use those to find the perfect holiday for you.”
He added that travelling in a “social bubble” could become a new trend, and help minimise contact with too many people.
“We’re also seeing a rise in people looking to book to go away in larger groups as people look to establish “bubbles” with certain households in future,” he added.
“Whilst social distancing will be in place for a while, we can envisage a situation whereby groups are able to go away providing they are able to quarantine before and after and so we expect to see this reflect in group bookings towards the end of Summer.”
While travellers may have some concerns about the virus, the good news is that domestic holidays are likely to see a healthy recovery.
Mr Fox concluded: “Even though it’s not entirely clear when UK tourism restrictions will start to ease, we’re seeing around a 25-30 percent weekly increase in search volume and conversion across our websites, which indicates to us that Britons are both looking more towards the UK for their 2020 travel plans and are getting increasingly confident about booking their trip.”