Which? warns UK beach breaks may cost more this summer

ABTA confirms agents are eligible for new government grants

Holidaymakers face paying more for a UK seaside break this summer as a snapshot investigation suggests some accommodation prices have risen by an average of 35 per cent compared with last summer, according to new research from Which?.

With demand for UK holidays expected to soar this summer, Which? tracked the prices of 15 holiday lets in the top ten most visited UK seaside destinations, and found that in every case, prices have increased from last summer.

The consumer champion’s snapshot investigation looked at prices for 15 properties listed between Airbnb and Vrbo in the past year, in destinations such as St Ives, Whitby, Llandudno and Brighton.

Which? first looked at the prices of these listings in May and June last year, for various dates in July and August 2020.

The research then looked at the prices of the same properties in February 2021 for similar dates in July and August 2021, and found all had increased in price, with an average increase of 35 per cent.

The largest markup of the properties Which? looked at was for a one-bedroom maisonette in Brighton on Airbnb.

When the consumer champion checked the price of the listing in May 2020 for the first week of August 2020, the cost was £53 per night.

But when it checked again in February 2021 for the same period the property was £127 per night – an increase of 140 per cent.

It also found a 70 per cent increase in price for a one-bedroom property in the centre of Eastbourne on Airbnb.

Last year, for a one-week holiday in the first week of August, it would have cost £409.

This year, the same week costs £696.

On Vrbo, a one-bedroom property in Bournemouth rose from £722 for the first week of August last year to £958 this year – an increase of 33 per cent.

Other price rises were more modest.

A one-bedroom cottage on Airbnb in Scarborough increased by seven per cent for similar August dates this year, while a one-bedroom property on Vrbo in Swanage with views over the Purbeck Hills had gone up by just two per cent.

Hosts on Airbnb set the prices and cleaning fees for properties listed on the platform. Airbnb said the price increases highlighted by Which? were “isolated examples,” while Vrbo also said hosts are in control and individually set the rental price for their properties.

According to the government’s current plans for releasing England from lockdown, self-contained holiday accommodation breaks are set to return from April 12th.

Demand for UK holidays is likely to be even higher this summer than last year, as there is currently less risk involved in taking a UK holiday than a holiday abroad while coronavirus restrictions, such as testing and hotel quarantine for UK arrivals, remain in place.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Many holidaymakers are looking forward to finally going to the seaside this summer, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that high demand has seen prices for some destinations shoot up too.

“If people are prepared to pay more for their summer holidays this year, it’s essential that they know their money will be protected or returned to them without hassle in the event they cannot travel as planned.

“Make sure you choose a provider that offers fair and flexible booking terms, so you won’t be left chasing a refund if something goes wrong.”

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