Lochaber benefits from return of the great British holiday

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Lochaber has been voted the 28th most popular UK holiday destination by readers of Which? magazine, writes Savannah Cobb-Thomas.

And, unlike many UK staycation destinations that lost public interest after the 1960s as the jet age began, continues to attract visitors both domestic – 78 per cent – and from overseas – 22 per cent.

After the recent pandemic visit numbers have increased further.

A VisitScotland spokesman said: ‘Known as the Outdoor Capital of the UK, Lochaber and Fort William have been a favourite for holidaymakers this summer and after spending so much time at home, demand is once again high for destinations that
offer physical and mental wellbeing benefits.’

That title of ‘outdoor’ capital has proved highly appealing to many who have spent months being stuck inside. Fort William itself offers the perfect outdoor escapist experience with little travel involved.

After the lows of lockdown, people’s attitudes are changing. A recent study shows that people are looking to take smaller, more spaced out breaks throughout the year rather than long vacations, which has also been shown to reduce stress and be more beneficial for mental health.

This means people will be looking for shorter travel times meaning staycation destinations are set to trend within the next couple of years. With the coming uncertainty of Brexit causing an acceleration of domestic holidays to 69 per cent – 12 per cent up on previous years – 58 per cent of those asked stated Brexit uncertainties as their reason.

‘Scotland’s rural destinations, like Fort William, have always been popular with UK visitors and with the pandemic changing attitudes towards travel, making staycations the focus for many, their popularity has only increased during this time, added the spokesperson.

A combination of the recent pandemic and Brexit has altered the attitude of up to 80 per cent of UK adults towards vacations, with eight per cent stating they don’t believe they will travel overseas again and 20 per cent saying they are less eager to travel.

There are varying reasons for these decisions, such as an increased respect for the environment. Up to 15 per cent believe overseas travel just won’t be the same and 20 per cent are worried about getting ill abroad, despite flight companies offering insurance and refunds. Thirty one per cent of the British public find using their own transport an attractive reason to opt for a staycation and after the pandemic many say a staycation can allow them to see family too.

Lochaber provides a huge array of activities and adventure and encapsulates a variety of what people seek in a staycation. Post lockdown, people are realising they have easy access to amazing locations and all they have to do is pack their car.

However, people have highlighted some of the recent unfortunate side effects tourism has had with a VisitScotland spokeperson adding: ‘Tourism is a force for good and if managed responsibly, supports communities in every corner of Scotland and improves the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it.’

Overall, more staycations rather than vacations should be more beneficial to the environment but, as previously mentioned, responsible tourism is necessary so these locations and Lochaber can be continued to be enjoyed by everyone.

Photograph (NO_F16_VisitFortWilliam-0159):