Archive for category Surveys

2013 round up

Happy New Year from all of us at Holiday Cottages! Before we start on the news and reviews for 2014, here’s a some highlights of what we covered on the blog in 2013:

We started the year with a report that we Brits are creatures of habit with our holiday choices, often returning to a previous destination and holiday cottage when we’ve had one good holiday there before. Last year was the Year of Natural Scotland, and was launched with an advert featuring Shetland ponies wearing onesies!

In February we found that 50% of Londoners prefer holidays in the sunshine, with many also stating that their holidays in the UK were some of the happiest they have had. We also gave you a run down of some of our most splendid cottages with pools, which are all still available now and could be great for a summer holiday vibe in winter!

Flybe announced flights from Manchester to Scotland in March, making for a quick and relatively cost effective way of taking a short break in Scotland. The Easter holidays were blighted by bad weather sweeping across the country. It didn’t affect Cheshire, though, as I shared my photography adventure in Tatton Park over the Easter weekend.

Our friends at Helpful Holidays swept the board at the Which? Travel magazine member survey in April. Meanwhile, in May, Blackpool was named the most popular British seaside resort at the TripAdvisor Choice Awards.

In June, research by VisitBritain found that more overseas visitors to the UK prefer visiting open green spaces such as parks and gardens than they do museums and galleries.

July started with the news that a change in the law in 2015, which means schools will decide their own term dates, will very likely drive up the prices of holidays year round. There was a rise in visits to UK attractions, helping to bolster domestic tourism.

We gave our top tips for festivals and activities over the August Bank Holiday; we also reported on the large number of UK piers under threat of coming under a state of disrepair if funding isn’t found.

September was a time for activities such as the Devon Open Studios, Frome Cheese and Agricultural Show, and pickling at Powderham.

In October, inbound tourism was on the up, and also Yorkshire was voted one of the top 10 places to visit in the world!

In November we recommended the North Devon Clovelly Herring Festival and reviewed the light fantastic Lumiere Festival, Durham. There was good news for Hull, as it was named the next UK City of Culture 2017.

Finally, in December, we found that we Brits are flavour of the month with Americans, as tourists from across the Pond have been increasing in number year on year. Christmas was also a great time for UK tourism as the number of overnight stays and short trips increased substantially over the festive period.

So, that’s it for 2013! Keep up to date with news and reviews in 2014 by following the blog, or you can like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter


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Christmas great for domestic tourism

Christmas is proving to be a good time for domestic tourism as overnight trips this Christmas and New Year will generate £1.9bn for the UK economy. 

VisitEngland’s Trip Tracker survey reveals a whopping 20% of adult Brits (10.1m) will make an overnight trip in the UK, with 17% (8.6m) planning the trip in England, generating £1.6bn for England alone.

33.7m people will travel to see friends and family, 18.1m adults plan to go shopping in the sales after Christmas, and 7.5m will take part in other festive activities.

Minister for Tourism Helen Grant said: “The Christmas holidays provide a great economic boost for domestic tourism.”

According to VisitEngland, just 4% (2m) of Brits plan to travel abroad over the Christmas and New Year period.

If you’re looking for a last minute Christmas break and a bargain, too, look at our Christmas Cottages blog post for recommendations.

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Americans love us Brits!

The UK is flavour of the month for Americans, it seems. According to research by TripAdvisor, visits by Americans to the UK are up 23% year-over-year.

Not only are they the largest inbound market to the UK, but they’re also showing as the largest increase in interest year-over-year, with Canadian visitors not far behind, with figures up 21%.

The most popular destinations for our visitors from across the Pond are London, Edinburgh, Yorkshire, the Scottish Highlands and Cornwall

TripAdvisor for Business VP marketing Alison Copus said: “In the year of the post-Olympics afterglow and a new royal baby to celebrate, it is clear that the UK’s place on the world stage is as strong as ever.

“Overall, interest in UK destinations is on the rise, and not just to the traditional holiday hotspots on the coast or in the capital – the UK’s inland countryside is thriving too, with Yorkshire and the Scottish Highlands both holding a place in the top five destinations.”

These figures are certainly promising, however they are in conflict with recent statistics from VisitBritain, which suggest that although the US is the biggest overseas market for the UK, visitor numbers are falling.

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Yorkshire one of top ten global places to visit

Yorkshire Dales by Flickr User Fields of View

Yorkshire Dales by Flickr User Fields of View

The Lonely Planet guidebook has built up a global reputation as one of the most prestigious and recognised guidebooks around, so to have Yorkshire named as one of the top 10 global regions to visit, then that certainly is saying something!

As a proud Yorkshire lass, you don’t have to tell me about the beautiful scenery, cultural quarters and many events and activities taking place in the region. But to have the recognition from such a reputable source, then that can only bode well for tourism in the region, and rightly so.

Yorkshire was chosen because of its “rugged moorlands, heritage homes and cosy pubs” as well as the fact that Leeds will host next year’s Tour de France grand depart.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity told the BBC: “This is massive for Yorkshire and our thousands of amazing tourism businesses, destinations and events.”

Also included in the ‘must see’ guide is Scotland, named third of the top ten countries to visit in 2014. Another place of outstanding natural beauty, but also chosen because it will host the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles next year.

Look out for blog posts about activities and events in Yorkshire and Scotland over the coming weeks to tempt you over for a holiday.


Lonely Planet’s top-10 regions to visit for 2014:

1 Sikkim, India

2 The Kimberley, Australia

3 Yorkshire

4 Hokuriku, Japan

5 Texas

6 Victoria Falls

7 Mallorca

8 West Coast, New Zealand

9 Hunan, China

10 Ha’apai, Tonga

Lonely Planet’s top-10 countries to visit for 2014:

1 Brazil

2 Antarctica

3 Scotland

4 Sweden

5 Malawi

6 Mexico

7 Seychelles

8 Belgium

9 Macedonia

10 Malaysia

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Inbound tourism on the up

The number of visitors to the UK grew by 16% to 3.5 million in August compared to last year. 

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics also show that spending by visitors to the UK hit a record £13.7 billion in the first 8 months of the year, up by around 11% on last year.

“More people than ever from around the world are choosing to holiday in Britain, with record numbers coming from the high spending markets of Latin America, Middle East and Asia Pacific,” said VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe.

Outbound tourism didn’t do too badly either, with the number of Brits deciding to go abroad for their holidays in August rising by 8% compared to last year.

Overall visits abroad in the 12 months to August grew by 2% with spending up by 4%. Holiday visits grew 2% but business visits fell by 1%, and visits to friends or relatives grew by 8%.


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Seaside piers under threat

Blackpool Pier, picture by Elisa Artesero

Blackpool Pier, picture by Elisa Artesero

Seaside piers should be taken into community ownership to stop them from disappearing from our coastlines, according to the People’s Piers report published by the trade association, Co-operatives UK. 

The author of the report, Jess Steele, believes that too many of the privately owned piers are trapped in a cycle of neglectful ownership with only periodic attempts at conservation. Owners who do not make provisions for high maintenance costs and insurance bills are just as much of a threat to the pier as the corrosive seawater. The report suggests 57 piers are under threat and the saviour should come in the form of co-operatively owned assets for the benefit of the community.

Piers are proving popular as ever, with six million people a year visiting them. However, they have endured some unfortunate press in recent years as several of the UK’s most loved piers have been damaged or destroyed by fires. Hastings Pier was nearly destroyed by an arson attack in October 2010, leaving 95% of the structure left burn-out. It has since been returned to local ownership by a compulsory purchase order from the registered owners who failed to do anything to the structure after the fire.

The pier is now owned by the Hastings Pier Charity ahead of a £14 million project to revive the Victorian structure. The majority of the money has been raised by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), with help from Hastings Borough and East Sussex County Councils, the Coastal Communities Fund, and the Community Assets Fund. Restoration on the Grade II-listed pier will start this month to be completed in spring 2015, transforming it into the “People’s Pier”, according to officials.

Presently, 56% of piers are privately owned, 39% by the local authority and 5% in community ownership. The report calls for a fast-track compulsory transfer process in order to save these important community and heritage assets. It suggests local communities to take ownership.

“More people live by the seaside than live in Wales and 10 per cent of our national heritage assets are within a mile of the sea,” said Ms. Steele.

“Seaside piers make us smile. But too many piers are trapped in a cycle of neglectful ownership with only periodic attempts at conservation. We believe that there is a new option, now being pioneered for Hastings Pier, which is to take piers into local community ownership.”

John Penrose, Coalition Minister for Tourism and Heritage until 2012, said: “For piers across the country, exposed at all times to sea and weather, there is a real challenge in meeting the high financial costs of upkeep and insurance.

“I applaud the search for new solutions to our national assets that can harness the passion and commitment that comes with co-operative and community models.”

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The Grass IS greener in the UK

Dartmoor picture by Flickr user Thierry Gregorious

Dartmoor picture by Flickr user Thierry Gregorious

The grass is always greener on the other side; apart from in the UK’s case, which appears to posses the elusive ‘green grass’. This comes as research finds visiting UK parks and gardens is one of the most popular activities for overseas visitors.

The research, carried out by VisitBritain, shows that 36% of all visitors are likely to enjoy some green space. Of the 31 million people visiting Britain each year, it might be surprising to find that around 2.4 million with a green space preference are aged between 25-34 compared to 1.4 million aged between 55-64.

The love of parks and gardens ranks ahead of visiting museums, castles or art galleries; but is beaten by going to the pub, eating out and shopping.

Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain said: “We’ve completed three big pieces of research which all indicate that our parks, gardens and natural beauty are a valuable tourism asset, admired across the world and enjoyed by our visitors.

“It’s hugely encouraging to see our gardens are as popular with the younger generation as they are with 55-plus age groups.”


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Blackpool named most popular seaside resort

Blackpool picture by Flickr user Ingy The Wingy

Blackpool picture by Flickr user Ingy The Wingy

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside! And the most popular British seaside resort we like to spend our time on has been named as Blackpool!

The resort beat off stiff competition from other favoured destinations, such as Brighton, Croyde in Devon, and Southwold in Suffolk, in the latest TripAdvisor Choice Awards.

On the world scale, London was voted third most popular city, beaten by Paris and New York and followed by Rome, Barcelona and Venice.

Within the UK, the capital was the leading destination, closely followed by Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Belfast and Blackpool.

For more holiday cottages within the UK, go to our main site, or for villas abroad, try our sister site Villaseek.


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Second year at top of Which? survey for Helpful Holidays

Many congratulations to our friends at Helpful Holidays for sweeping the board at this year’s Which? Travel magazine member survey!

For the second year running, Helpful Holidays came out on top of the survey rating holiday cottage and villa booking companies. They achieved and overall score of 91% and awarded 5 stars in every category, bar one.

Lorna Cowan, Editor of Which? Travel, said, “Helpful Holidays has proved to be a continued hit with Which? members after being voted the best holiday cottage company in our annual satisfaction survey for the second year running. Its impressive customer score and maximum five star rating in six out of the seven featured categories, including customer service and ease of booking, shows just how well members rate the company and the cottages it offers.”

Which? is recognised for its unbiased and trustworthy endorsements, so to rate so highly by its members is a wonderful achievement. It also follows on from the recent Silver Award for Best UK Cottage/Self Catering Booking Company (UK Properties) at the British Travel Awards.

Beaminster cottage

Beaminster cottage

Why not try this pretty, detached 19th cent. stone cottage in Beaminster, Dorset.  With lovely wooded valley walks to neighbouring Netherbury, where the original ‘River Cottage’ from the TV series is located. Sleeps 4 and has availability in May.

Cottage by the creek

Cottage by the creek

Also available in May is this neat, modern mid-terrace cottage, one of nine in a stylish, small development in Little Petherick. At the back, an enclosed, waterside, decked terrace (lockable gate with ladder to creek) and first-floor balcony are ideal for enjoying the lovely creek views and great for wildlife-watching: swans, egrets, herons and kingfishers frequently seen. Sleeps 4.

Bovey Castle lodges

Bovey Castle lodges

With a 25% discount offer in May, you can’t go wrong with one of these granite built lodges (sleeps 6) overlooking Edwardian gardens, lake and tennis courts in the grounds of Bovey Castle, Dartmoor. All the hotel facilities are yours to enjoy, including indoor heated swimming pool, gym, steam room, sauna, spa (beauty treatments) and restaurant. Outside are hard and grass tennis courts (lessons available), croquet lawn (seasonal), cricket nets (late May to mid-September) and trampoline.

St. Ives cottage

St. Ives cottage

For a beach holiday on the Tate Gallery side of St Ives and just 450 yards from the heart of town, harbour and galleries is this carefully renovated, Victorian terraced house (sleeps 6). The beautifully white interior and simple, contemporary furnishings and original artwork reflect the unique local light and the artistic influences of the town

For all of these Helpful Holidays properties and more, be sure to visit our main site to find your perfect holiday let.

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Travel insurance – check the small print!

A recent survey by consumer rights champion Which? has revealed a high level of travel insurance claim rejections, and low level of consumer satisfaction compared to other insurance products. A lot of the problem is that people don’t check the small print and also that insurers tend to be rather rigid in their interpretation of certain terms. To read the full story, go to our sister blog site, Villaseek.

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