What interesting times we live in. Figures have revealed that the oh-so-trendy ‘staycation’ phenomenon might be on the slide, with the number of overnight visitors to Brighton and Hove dropping by 72,000 last year.
This was despite an increase in day visits of 500,000 - people want to go to the city, but they just don’t necessarily want to rest their head there, it seems.
Why could this be? One only needs to stick one’s head out of the window at the moment to identify a possible culprit. The British weather is such a volatile beast and when we get months like the last one, when we seemed to have as much torrential rain as we did sunshine, it’s easy to see why holidaymakers might be falling out of love with Blighty. When the budget is tight, people want to spend their holiday money carefully and might be nervous about committing to an overnight stay if a monsoon is a distinct possibility. A day trip can be aborted if the weather lets you down, but once you’ve paid for a hotel, you have to make the best of it, come hell or high water - or both.
According to the latest figures from the Tourism South East report, commissioned by Brighton & Hove City Council, 10 million people flocked to the city in 2014, so there is clearly no shortage of tourist appeal. Visitor expenditure was up by 5% last year too, taking the total to just over £873 million. While this is good news in itself, when you consider the additional impact this would have had if more day visits had converted to overnight stays, it’s easy to see why Brighton and Hove businesses are keen to see the situation improve.
The local hotels association has called for the council to bear this in mind when considering planning permission for new hotels, saying that the city has sufficient bed stock already. There is an argument, of course, that more beds will improve competition, bring down prices and make the city more attractive to staycationers. But Brighton and Hove is still outperforming the rest of the region and the UK - compared with a national average of 8%, and 9% in the South East, the city’s 6% reduction in overnight visitors shows it is still one of the hottest spots on the coast.