Does an early Easter mean lower UK visitor numbers?
Many clients have commented that the normal boost to trade that takes place over Easter did not really materialise this year and one of the reasons that is being blamed is that Easter was so early.
The date for Easter is set according to the date of the first full moon occurring after the vernal equinox which is one of the two dates in the year when the length of the day and the night are equal on the equator (the other being in autumn). The date of the vernal equinox was standardised as taking place on 21 March therefore Easter takes place when the first full moon arises after this date each year.
Although Easter was early this year it has in fact been celebrated as early as 22 March in both 1761 and 1818 and as late as 25 April in 1943 and this difference appears to have a huge variation on the tourism economy.
With Easter being so early this year there were many local and national variations with school holidays, some of which were very disruptive for families and this, along with the forecast for changeable weather so early in the year no doubt impacted on visitor numbers. Some of the region’s operators believe that families who normally holiday in the UK over Easter have taken holidays abroad as not all the school Easter holidays fell into the ‘peak holiday price bands’.
In addition visitor numbers, particularly in Cumbria, also appear to be suffering due to the perceived issues arising from the floods in December which were well publicised nationally but with little subsequent publicity that the travel issues have now, in the main, been overcome.
Religious leaders have recently begun a consultation process with the aim of standardising the date of Easter Sunday and it is anticipated that within the next decade that the date will be fixed at either the second or third weekend of April. If this happens it will hopefully give some certainty to schools in future and enable our tourism industry some opportunity to plan accordingly.
For more information on the topic, please contact Colin Johnson.