“Why go all the way to Bondi when you can come to Bridlington?” asks Harry Potter star Rupert Grint, barely containing the shivers behind his grin as he bravely sports a wetsuit on the Yorkshire coast. It’s all part of the government’s new ad campaign to try to keep Brits in the country on ‘staycation’ throughout 2012, a landmark year, thanks to the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee.
This is Britain’s first-ever national campaign to promote holidaying at home. And while suggesting that a pilgrimage to Bondi is a waste of time and money when you can rock up to a minor fishing port and risk hypothermia in the North Sea instead, might be slightly over-stating the case, I’m astounded that it’s taken this long to start advertising what the UK has to offer.
The folk here are an untapped audience if a recent survey by hotwire.com is anything to go by – it showed that 71 per cent of Londoners have been to Paris, compared with just 69 per cent who have visited Wales.
Why is the UK so grossly overlooked as a holiday destination, by both the people who live here, and a government that has only just woken up to the possibilities? Yes, it’s pretty snicker-worthy that the New York Times reckons Birmingham is the 19th must-see destination of the year (no disrespect to Brum, great weekend away, but better than Kerala and Uganda? Really?). And paying £15 for a tour of Croydon suggests an excess of time and funds and a loss of the faculties.
But the UK does possess a wealth of great short breaks that, while right on our doorstep, are languishing, unloved. Sod 2012 – the UK is a great place to holiday any time. See our UK Trip section every week for fresh ideas.