Is the cost of living crisis and return of holidays abroad the end of Lake District staycation boom?

Windermere Lake Cruises boats at Bowness Bay Credit: ITV News Border

It's half term for many but businesses in the Lake District say it's been unusually quiet.

It's thought the cost of living crisis and availability of cheaper holidays abroad has now brought an end to the staycation boom Cumbria saw during the pandemic.

At Cedar Manor the royal cake frosting is ready and a tree has been planted for the jubilee, as ordered by the Queen.

After a slow May start, there's been a flurry of last-minute bookings for the jubilee weekend, especially for a very royal afternoon tea.

Caroline Kaye, owner and Operations Manager told ITV Border: "We've got strawberries and cream and coronation chicken on our sandwiches.

"We're trying to make it a bit more jubilee, we've got Eton mess, which is a very traditional dessert."

Royal cake frosting at Cedar Manor Hotel Credit: ITV News Border

With the cost of living crisis, business is quieter than usual; they're also spending less.

Caroline said: "Everything has doubled, it's sometimes even tripled. Oil has gone up; butter's gone up, you know we use a lot of butter because we bake so we're trying to keep our prices down.

"So we're trying to run the hotel as efficiently as we can to try and hold them down but it's really hard and we're looking at the point where we might have to put our prices up."

And, with the price of fuel, day visitors are down. Windermere Lake Cruises rely heavily on them.

Jubilee Garden at the Cedar Manor Hotel Credit: ITV News Border

Jennifer Cormack from the boat operator told ITV News Border: "It's not been as busy as it usually is at this time of year.

"We're experiencing probably about 80% of the customers that we'd usually have."

Jennifer thinks that's largely because the cost of fuel is putting day-trippers off coming up to the Lake District, but the loss of trade has a big effect on the business.

She said: "Because our running costs are still the same; our staffing costs are still the same.

"Less passengers does have a financial impact on the business."

International visitors haven't returned post Covid Credit: ITV News Border

Moving the bank holidays may have disrupted plans, but a staycation to the Lakes is also now competing with cheap holidays abroad, and Cumbria's international visitors haven't yet returned post Covid.

Dan Visser from Langdale Estates and Cumbria Tourism said: "We're still a way off welcoming back international visitors to the Lake District in significant numbers.

"There's still a lot of challenges for many of those markets."

Dan added that businesses are now in a lull period between the pandemic staycation boom and international business picking up, but the cost of living crisis for domestic visitors is adding an extra challenge to that situation.

He said: "A lot of visitors are having their incomes squeezed and those luxuries like short breaks at home and holidays are going to have to go for a little while, which is very sad."

It's been a quieter than usual half term, but, with good weather forecast, businesses hope the jubilee bank holiday will be busy.