AFTER the best start to a UK summer since 2006, tourist numbers and spending look likely to increase throughout Torbay and South Devon in 2013, tourist bosses are predicting.
Last year 17 per cent of people made changes to their holiday plans because of the ongoing bad weather, recent Visit England figures showed.
However, following the UK's longest hot spell in seven years, two-thirds of British holidaymakers are ditching costly vacations abroad and discovering new destinations on home turf – around 24 per cent more than in 2012, according to a recent survey by Travelodge which has hotels in Torquay and Paignton.
Carolyn Custerson, chairman of Visit Devon and chief executive of the English Riviera Tourism Company, said: "The English Riviera is the South West's leading resort and as direct result of the amazing weather we have been experiencing many operators are reporting a year on year uplift of 20 per cent in summer bookings with thousands of people flocking to the resort to enjoy the many award winning beaches and great family attractions."
According to research from Visit England, Devon is one of the few "iconic and very compelling" destinations in the UK Brits will travel more than three-hours to get to. Travelodge has launched a Family Staycation Planner to make it easier for British families to explore every part of the area.
Their two English Riviera hotels in Torquay and Paignton hosted 85,000 people in the last year.
Stephanie Cockroft, 26, a features writer from London, said she was planning a week-long staycation in Devon, her favourite county. "I haven't been there for a while because of the weather, but with the forecast looking so great for the rest of the summer, I'm heading to Torquay. It's about a four-hour drive from where I live now, but it's the only place I would drive that far for. I honestly think the beaches in Devon are the best in the world.
"Where else do you get never ending, wild stretches of sand, looked on by greenery and then a pebble cove with no one there — surrounded by palm trees? I love Torquay's seafront, having a drink in one of the bars, hiring a boat and going fishing — I feel like I'm on holiday as soon as I arrive."
Richard Hutt, 42, from Brighton, surfs every year in Devon and said a staycation app would be helpful to explore the area, especially if it contained surf reports and details of wi-fi spots.
midwife Alexis Stickland, 30, who visits frequently with her husband Dan and two children, Toby, two, and Ivy, five months said: Thinking about going abroad is just a headache with the kids – Devon is so convenient."
This enthusiasm is matched by a consistent rise in visitor spending in the area – in 2012, foreign visitors spent £201m, up from £184m in 2011.
These figures are likely to rise again, with the recently opened cycle route linking Devon and France, The Tour de Manche.