• New research reveals the number of domestic tourists from Northern Ireland planning to spend more time on holiday in the UK this year is expected to increase by 21%
  • Across the UK, millennials (aged 25-34) are driving this demand, as they are most likely to choose a staycation as their main holiday and spend more whilst on holiday
  • Northern Ireland hospitality and leisure businesses have seen employment opportunities improve as a result.


The number of domestic tourists from Northern Ireland planning to spend more time on holiday within the UK will surge by 21% this year, fuelled by millennials looking to escape from their smartphones and social media, according to a new report from Barclays Corporate Banking.

The report, The Great British Staycation – the growing attraction of the UK for domestic holidaymakers, which surveyed more than 2,000 UK holiday makers and 500 business leaders from the leisure & hospitality industry, found that people of all ages said they were planning to enjoy more holiday time at home in 2019.

The ‘selfie generation’ of 25-34 year-olds are more likely than any other age group to take their main holiday in Britain this year, with over half (52%) of staycationers planning to spend more time in the UK this year, compared to 2018.

Most popular locations

44% of those surveyed within Northern Ireland said that they intend to spend more time holidaying at home, with outbound staycationers choosing to visit Scotland (26%), London (23%) and Yorkshire (15%).

According to GB staycationers, the top locations to visit are the South West (31%), Scotland (22%), Yorkshire (20%) and Wales (20%).

Staycation demand from Northern Ireland holidaymakers to increase by 21%

Barclays’ report found that businesses in the region are also witnessing increased demand. In Northern Ireland, 52% of those surveyed said they had seen an increase in domestic tourism since 2017, and 38% of Northern Ireland businesses had seen bookings being made further in advance.

According to domestic holidaymakers, the main reason for the popularity of staycations is convenience (34%), followed by a desire to revisit places they have been to before (21%).  Almost one in five (18%) say holidays in the UK are more affordable, with the same number of respondents choosing a staycation because of concern over the impact that Brexit could have on foreign travel and family finances

Hospitality & Leisure’s contribution to the local economy

Hospitality businesses are already seeing their local economy benefit from increasing demand for domestic holidays. In Northern Ireland 54% have seen employment opportunities improve, 46% have seen an increase in the number of hospitality businesses in their area and 38% have seen an increase in house prices. These findings suggest that, with a tailored business strategy, hospitality businesses can not only make the most of rising domestic demand, but also benefit the wider economy in uncertain political times.

In response to the findings, Adrian Doran, Head of Barclays Corporate Banking in Northern Ireland said: “It’s very encouraging to see that domestic tourism is thriving both in Northern Ireland and in many popular parts of GB, which are easy for us to access by plane or ferry, with more holidaymakers choosing to spend increasing amounts of their valuable leisure time closer to home.  There are various reasons for this but ultimately, it’s fairly simple. The top-quality services provided by our hotels, restaurants, resorts and leisure providers are helping the public enjoy great experiences without having to travel too far. This is true for all ages, but it’s particularly pleasing that our study found younger people are being drawn to holidays in and around the UK.

“Operators will have to continue to adapt and invest in cutting edge technology to ensure that this trend persists, while at the same time finding innovative ways to appeal to all age groups wanting to enjoy the attraction of the UK.”

Areas of business investment

In the past five years, tourism businesses have focused investment on new technology and new trends such as a desire for the more traditional holiday experiences.

In Northern Ireland, 30% of businesses have invested in ‘nostalgic activities’ such as afternoon teas, traditional fish & chips and heritage tours, and 22% have invested in experiential offerings such as food tours and tastings. A much smaller percentage of businesses in Northern Ireland are investing in health holidays (6%), yoga retreats (2%) or digital detox retreats (6%) which are key motivations for 25-34-year-olds to choose a staycation in the UK.

With convenience a key reason to choose to stay in the UK, businesses have also been investing in digital services that create more seamless user experiences. Of those that have invested in Northern Ireland 46% have done so in the last two years. Across the UK, 36% of businesses say they have introduced free services including smartphone check-in, payment via wearable technology, or location-specific notifications about offers and discounts.

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