We’re not all going
on a summer holiday,
reports Saskia Murphy

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After more than a year confined to our living rooms, most of us are itching to travel.

For sixteen long, dreary months we’ve clung on to memories of past adventures, flicking through old photographs and feeling a pang of sadness every time an email from Jack’s Flight Club offers a lineup of cheap flights to far-off destinations heartbreakingly out of reach.

With the spread of the Delta variant and subsequent delay to so-called freedom day, it’s likely that many of us are facing another summer without a holiday abroad.

Paella on the seafront, tapas and beers in backstreet bars, and caipirinhas in the sun will all have to wait for now.

But of course the pandemic has encouraged many of us to make peace with our surroundings. UK holiday rentals have been inundated with bookings, and popular British holiday destinations such as Cornwall and Blackpool have been flooded with visitors. Cottages in the countryside have been fully booked for months, and local businesses are reaping the well-deserved rewards of heavy footfall after months
of closure.

With every cloud, and all that. But with the rise in demand, of course prices have closely followed.

A study by consumer group Which? indicates prices have been hiked in 10 of the UK’s most visited beach destinations, includingSt Ives, Whitby, Llandudno and Brighton.

As part of the analysis, researchers looked at prices on accommodation sites Airbnb and Vrbo, finding the cost of stays in July and August is typically 35 per cent higher now than if the equivalent dates last summer were booked during May and June 2020.

In March the Telegraph reported a week at Center Parcs during the summer holidays will cost a family of four a cool £2,000 this year, while frustrated would-be holidaymakers have taken to Twitter and Facebook to air their vexation at being priced out of the holiday market.

Those who would in normal times describe themselves as jetsetters are dipping their toes in the joy of the Great British summer holiday, smugly labelling Instagram updates with #staycation, despite the fact the UK destination they are visiting is just a holiday to most.

Another consequence of the pandemic is a clear class divide between those who can afford to take a break this summer and those who cannot. More well-heeled travellers who are able to do their jobs remotely can even toy with the idea of jetting off to an amber list country, choosing to self isolate for 10 days on their return and not having to worry too much about forking out for two tests.

But for many people, including the vast majority of key workers who can’t do their jobs from home, finding an extra 10 days of annual leave to isolate at home is out of the question. For low income families who are unable to afford a visit to a British holiday destination this year it’s likely to be another summer of walks and picnics in the local park.

The pandemic has found a new way to expose brutal inequalities, with the wealthy prevailing once again.

Saskia Murphy is a Manchester-based freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter @SaskiaMurphy

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