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As England looks forward to a bumper year of sporting, cultural and royal events in the year of the London2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee, the National Tourist Board looks at emerging and continuing trends in domestic tourism.

By all accounts, we’re redefining how we holiday. Online bookings have soared two-thirds of holidays are booked in advance, and of these 60% are booked online. We’re travelling on two wheels instead of four, enjoying mini-breaks, glamping, and indulging in afternoon tea and cupcakes wherever we can.

Next year, the Torch Relay, Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Festival will see thousands take to the streets in celebration. We’ll celebrate the legacy of Dickens and Shakespeare. And then, of course, there is the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 2012 really is the time to be in England.

Here, VisitEngland predicts what’ll be hot in the year ahead.

The Rise of the Boutique B&B

Offerings such as Number One South Beach in Blackpool, gold award-winning, 5-star rated The Ashton in Lancaster and Byfords B&B in Norfolk have raised the bar for boutique B&Bs, setting a new standard in luxury. Guests can now expect all the decadence of a top hotel with the charm and personal service of a B&B. This new breed of accommodation not only offers beautifully decorated, contemporary surroundings, but award winning food, too.

Self- Catering and Party Houses

Bookings of self-catering accommodation were up 23% on pre-recession figures in 2010, and this looks set to continue with the popularity of self-catering cottages increasing. From cottages with open fireplaces to castles steeped in history, and from modern apartments with all the latest gadgets to quirky lighthouses high on the cliff tops, self-catering hire offers the comfort and flexibility of home-away-from-home living and are friendly on the wallet, especially for large groups.

Our hot picks? Living Architecture is getting people talking about modern design with its unique take on self-catering accommodation. Sheepskin Cottages offers secluded rural retreats in truly luxurious surroundings, Cottages4You has an impressive range of properties across the whole country and Sandy Balls offers family friendly wood cabins in the New Forest.

Potter Forevermore: Set-Jetting Continues

The magic continues as the film set that bought the story of the world’s most famous wizard to life will throw open its doors for the public. The Warner Bros Studio Tour begins in March 2012, and will take you behind the scenes of the magical world of Harry Potter.

It’s isn’t just Potter fans that will travel to see the mise-en-scene of their favourite film or TV show. Thousands of fans have been visiting the locations of Downton Abbey, drinking cocktails in The Sugar Hut in an attempt to glimpse a cast member of TOWIE and walking in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Films like Wuthering Heights, My Week with Marilyn, Iron Lady, War Horse and Great Expectations are all set to hit our screens in the coming months, showcasing a huge diversity of English scenes. 

For the more literary, Dickens2012 will celebrate 200 years since the birth of the author, with celebrations planned in Kent, Portsmouth and London and The World Shakespeare Festival will see the biggest celebration of William Shakespeare ever held. Fans can also visit Bronte Country, Hardy’s Wessex inspirations in Dorset and Agatha Christie’s Torquay.   

Nature Goes Upmarket: Glamping Continues to Rise

The Only Way is Essex crew are doing it, celebrities are doing it, and increasingly families and groups of friends are doing it too: glamping looks here to stay. Gone are the days of waking up in cold, damp tents following an interrupted night’s sleep on a punctured air bed that deflated in the night. Now you can sleep in a canvas hotel room for the fraction of the price of a hotel.

Whether you fancy spending the night in a Tipi, Wendy House, Yurt, Ekopod or a Bedouin tent, getting back to nature has never been so glamorous. Featuring wooden floors, wood burning stoves and sheepskin rugs, properties offered by Jollydays in Yorkshire greet guests with fairy lights and chandeliers. For something a little less decadent, try Big Sky tipi holidays, which provide beds, bean bags, a gas fire, a full set of cooking utensils and a full crockery set.

The Downton Effect

TV’s most lavish period drama, Downton Abbey, returned for a second series this autumn and has just been commissioned for a third. No doubt, its runaway success has contributed to a revived interest in stately homes and all things Edwardian. Fans from around the world have been flocking to Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey, and other locations that feature in the smash hit ITV series.

Other historic houses, castles and stately homes have also been enjoying a rise in interest, partly as a knock-on effect of Downton Abbey and partly because properties are increasingly expanding their offering to provide a diverse and exciting programme of activities. From jousting at Hampton Court Palace and to Knight School at Alnwick Castle, to traditional toy-making workshops at Kenilworth Castle, living history has never been more fun.

London 2012 Games Boost Sports & Spectator Tourism

2012 will see thousands of people from all over the world visiting our fair isle to see the good and the great compete for one of sports highest accolades while British nationals will travel around the country to see the Torch Relay in action, visit Olympic venues and soak up the atmosphere of regional events. VisitEngland predicts a surge in sports tourism, as thousands are inspired to try or take up a sport.

We’ve seen the ‘Wimbledon Effect’ and London Marathon effect’ every summer as outdoor tennis courts and parks respectively are packed with young and old. With so many sports on national display, it is expected that interest in everything from archery to volleyball will increase, with children plotting their careers as future Olympic hopefuls. This effect may start even before the Games, as even pre Olympics, members of the public can try their hand at archery at Lord’s Cricket Ground, sail in Weymouth, mountain bike at Hadleigh and canoe at Broxbourne White Water Canoe Centre.

Catch, Forage and Survive

The economic climate has increased our appetite for nature: In 2010, rural holidays taken in England were 9% up on pre-recession averages. Alongside our enthusiasm for the great outdoors is our growing interest in local food produce. 

Head out to sea with a fisherman on a Catch and Cook experience in Dorset to catch your lunch or dinner. Return after a day at sea and take your catch to one of a number of participating pubs and restaurants and enjoy the spoils of a hard day’s work with a  good bottle of wine.

For those that prefer dry land, courses with companies like Wild Man Wild Food enable travellers to follow in the footsteps of Bear Grylls and Ray Mears as they learn to hunt, gather and survive like our ancestors. Join Fergus the Forager on a trail through the Kentish Countryside hunting for mushrooms, plants and berries.

Family bushcraft courses run by Ray Mears teach the basics of survival. Get close to nature as a family as you make a campfire, shelter for the night, track animals and learn to recognise plants and trees.

Masterclasses and Courses

It’s not just wild food and survival courses that are on the rise – our enthusiasm for holiday workshops and masterclasses encompasses a whole range of skills and activities. With hotels, historic properties and restaurants offering courses on everything from chocolate making to archery, its easier than ever to incorporate learning a new skill into your holiday plans. 

2020 Archery Club in London offers have-a-go archery sessions in its London Bridge and Islington indoor ranges. Hey Little Cupcake in Manchester offers cupcake and mixology lessons, baking and jam making, in the pretty surroundings of their shop in Spinningfields. For budding Masterchefs there’s The Gallivant Cookery School, which offers full days with the head chef of the Beach Bistro who advises on sourcing top ingredients and cooking everything from seafood to game.  

Royal England

The Royal Wedding in May 2011 got everyone excited about the royal family and whetted our appetite for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. With celebrations planned across the country and everyone awarded an extra bank holiday, the four-day weekend in June will see the English population taking to the streets in their millions to join community lunches and celebrations. Bunting, jam sandwiches and lashings of pop and ginger beer - hurrah.  

There’ll be royal themed activities and exhibitions across the country to mark this special occasion. 2012 is also the perfect time to explore the London Borough of Greenwich, which will join Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston and Windsor and Maidenhead in becoming a Royal Borough.

Art lovers can begin celebrations by visiting exhibits at Windsor Castle and the National Portrait Gallery, both featuring images captured, drawn and painted during the Queen’s 60 year reign. Royal palaces like Sandringham and Hampton Court will get a boost, with other places linked with the royal family also expected to put on a special show. 

Destination Pick: The Scilly Isles

Turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, tropical plants and a balmy Mediterranean climate… No, it’s not southern Europe – but the Isles of Scilly. The Isles of Scilly archipelago is much as it was 60 years ago. In addition to the honesty boxes, cars are a rarity and there are very few modern attractions – imagine an island with no theme parks, no high rises, no amusement arcades and no cinema. This is the perfect place to escape 9-5 stresses and experience life as it was when Queen Elizabeth II began her reign.

The smaller islands are famed for their untouched natural landscape and lots of wildlife. Take a relaxing stroll among the tropical blooms of the 17-acre Tresco Abbey Gardens and a boat trip to spot the dolphins, basking sharks and porpoises that hang out off the coast.

Stay at the Star Castle, built in 1593 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth for the defence of the Isles of Scilly. In its lifetime, the Castle has been frequented by two Princes of Wales – who subsequently became kings of England - it was opened as a hotel by another Prince of Wales and has been visited by Queen Victoria.  It stands on the fortified Garrison Hill to the west of Hugh Town, St Mary's and commands magnificent views of the sea and isles in every direction.



For further press information or for high resolution images please contact:
Mark Anthony McCulloch / Yolanda Copes-Stepney / Laura Smith
EnjoyEngland Press Office
Tel: 020 7578 1400
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Notes to Editors:
About VisitEngland
• VisitEngland is the country’s national tourist board. We work in partnership with the industry to develop the visitor experience across England, plan national tourism strategy, grow the value of tourism in England and provide advocacy for the industry and our visitors
• Our work is underpinned by robust research and customer insights. You can access the latest in-depth market intelligence and statistics on  
• VisitEngland markets England under the Enjoy England consumer brand in the domestic market and markets England under the VisitEngland brand internationally 
About England
• England is a unique destination and a real powerhouse in global tourism. It represents 84 percent of the total UK visitor economy, is worth £97 billion, and supports in excess of 2 million jobs
• More information can be found on and