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Holiday Rentals - Soaring Demand, But More Regulations and Taxes

Peter Hemple reviews the latest developments in the short-term accommodation sector

The staycation trend in the UK grew exponentially during the pandemic. Now, despite Covid infection rates hitting new all-time-highs, fortunately hospitalisations and deaths have not followed the same growth trend and, let’s be honest, we are all bored of talking/worrying about it anymore, so most people are just shrugging their shoulders and sighing ‘it’s over now, isn’t it?’

In many respects they are right. We have all saved some money by not doing as much as we would like to have done over the past 2-3 years and we just want to jump on a plane and fly somewhere…good luck with that.

Assuming that you have managed to get your expired passport renewed, (at the end of June there were 550,000 passport applications in the system with 50,000 of those already waiting for more than 10 weeks), the next potential obstacle is having a flight that has not been cancelled. Just two airlines - British Airways and EasyJet - had cancelled more than 40,000 flights combined by mid-July (I personally had to abandon an overseas holiday in July due to British Airways cancelling both of my flights).

You could argue that I was one of the lucky ones as I got notice of my cancellation several days before leaving. A friend of mine landed in Nice with 14 other family members for a wedding and before they had even collected their luggage at Nice Airport, EasyJet sent them all an SMS notification that their return flight had been cancelled. After wasting a day of their trip searching in vain for return flights, their only option was to return to London via train. Most of us will have read some of the many travel horror stories by now, and some will know friends who have experienced them.  

Transporting yourself and your family to and from a destination is still only part of the equation however, and I have another friend that flew with his family from London Heathrow to Stockholm, but their suitcases did not arrive at their destination until three weeks later. Again, at least the luggage finally arrived unharmed. Some travellers have waited months for their luggage this year, or received damaged luggage, and some obviously never see their luggage again. This has been a global problem this summer, mainly due to most airports cutting back on staff, especially baggage handlers, during the pandemic.

For those that don’t want to fly, the easiest solution if you still want to go to France, Italy or Spain, is to jump in a car and drive there. However, at the start of the school holidays the delays at Dover started and the Port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister said travellers could expect delays of up to six hours, which is not the ideal start to a long drive (during a heatwave) to southern Europe, and when the battery runs out on a child’s iPad, all hell breaks loose!

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