British domestic tourism leads to housing crisis, high prices and nuisance

Cornwall’s beautiful coastlines, rugged cliffs and picture-postcard villages attract millions of visitors from around the world every year. But this summer it’s mainly the British themselves who are lounging on Cornwall’s famous beaches.

Four in five English have opted for a this summer staycation – a holiday in your own country – instead of popular holiday destinations such as Spain and France. Due to the delta variant of the coronavirus, travel restrictions and expensive PCR tests, an overseas holiday has fallen into the water for many Britons this year.

But the large numbers of holidaymakers in their own country bring with them the necessary problems. In popular areas like Cornwall and Devon, increased demand for holiday homes and second homes has brought an already simmering housing crisis to a boil. In some places, 80 percent of the homes have now been bought as holiday homes or rental locations.

“There is now such a demand for holiday homes that local residents are more or less forced out of their homes,” says Monique Collins of Newquay in Cornwall. She has a foundation that helps people with a low income to find a home. She now receives about four calls a day from people who are put on the street. “They are being evicted because the landlord wants to list the property on Airbnb or sell it for insane prices,” she explains. “People who come from here are now in tents or mobile homes, they have nowhere to go.”

‘No more house to be found’

It happened to Scott Midgley, who works at four-star The Headland hotel on the Newquay coast. His landlord gave him a month to leave. “Fortunately, the hotel where I work offered me a temporary room, otherwise I would have ended up on the street,” he says. “For people with a catering salary, like me, there is no longer a house to be found. And if you can find one, with these high rents it is choosing between paying your rent or being able to do your shopping.”

The situation is getting dangerous, according to the South Hams council in Devon. “We still call it a housing crisis, but if it continues it will be an emergency,” said City Council member Judy Pearce. “There are no more houses for people who work here in the hospital, in education, or for example for the local rescue team. While these people are essential to our community.”

Pearce believes there should be more regulation at the national level to reduce the growing number of holiday homes and second homes. “Housing was already expensive here, but the pandemic has pushed the price up to such an extent that it has become unaffordable.”

Sheep chased off cliff

Domestic tourism causes problems not only on the housing market, local farmers are also affected by the large numbers of visitors. “People walk through your fields and leave gates open and my cattle run away. They have no respect for the countryside,” says sheep farmer Richard Rossiter of Salcombe in Devon.

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