With just days to go until al-fresco dining and the first phase of staycations are allowed across the country, new VisitEngland research shows that it’s foodie experiences that are top of the agenda for sensory-starved Britons.
In a research poll of 2,476 nationally representative adults commissioned by VisitEngland, more than half (51%) of respondents cited eating out at a restaurant as the travel experience they had missed most of all during lockdown, followed by more than a third (37%) who had missed visits to pubs and bars and coffee shops and cafes.
The research showed that our taste buds are also driving our travel plans with foodie experiences taking the top three spots for activities Brits are hoping to enjoy this summer. Almost half, 46%, of respondents were most looking forward to eating out at a restaurant, market or street food truck, jointly placed with the chance to have a drink in a pub garden, with 44% looking forward to visiting coffee shops and cafes.
VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said "From fine-dining restaurants and gastropubs to beach-side shacks and city street-food, England’s food and drink offering is as varied as it is exciting and an integral part of exploring a destination. From our coast and countryside to our city streets, England offers a huge diversity of sensory experiences and we encourage Brits to responsibly explore both their old favourites and discover our hidden gems this summer.”
Tantalising our tastebuds also scored highly when thinking about the sensory experiences Brits are looking forward to as freedom to travel begins to open up. Fish and chips (51%); ice-cream (51%) and a cold drink in a pub (47%) were the top three tastes Brits were excited about experiencing this summer.
Food and drink dominated the other sensory highlights, with the smell of a BBQ (46%), the noise of an ice-cream van jingle (35%); the sound of chatter in a pub (44%) and the feeling of a cold drink in hand (45%), all scoring in the top three responses when asked about the sensory travel experiences Brits were most excited about.
The allure of the coast scored strongly with the top smell cited as sea air (56%) and the top sound as waves crashing on the beach (54%), with nearly half of respondents (49%) citing beach views, sandcastles and windbreaks and the sparkling sea (45%) when asked about the sights that they were most looking forward to seeing.
The lockdown appreciation of nature looks set to continue as we venture further afield, with both the smell and sight of flowers in bloom and bumblebees buzzing, alongside the simple act of sitting on the grass, amongst the top three responses when asked about the experiences related to smell, sight and touch Brits were most looking forward to.
More than half, 55%, of those surveyed, were planning on taking a day trip, short break or longer holiday in England within six months of being allowed to travel again, rising to 63% amongst those living in large cities.
Below, VisitEngland has rounded up its top tips for sensory travel across this country this summer, from visits to our lavender fields and rose filled gardens to top fish and chip spots beyond the honeypots.
And, as tourism begins to reopen up, the national tourist agency is calling on Brits to Escape the Everyday responsibly, whether that’s looking for the We’re Good to Go mark - with more than 44,000 tourism businesses registered to the scheme and supporting visitors to book a break with confidence - to pre-booking attraction and hospitality visits and following the Countryside Code as we explore this summer.