Holidays at home are great - but are they cheaper?

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John Giles/PA Wire

The new campaign 'Holidays at Home are GREAT' has launched, aimed at boosting tourism throughout the UK in 2012.

It is the biggest ever domestic tourism campaign and sees Stephen Fry, Julie Walters, Rupert Grint and Michelle Dockery starring in a new TV ad encouraging people to visit a website offering 20.12 per cent discounts on accommodation, restaurants, attractions and transport around the country.

But is a 'staycation' really cheaper than going abroad?

The £5 million campaign, led by VisitEngland and supported by the tourist boards of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, will showcase the country and highlight the key events taking place this year.

"2012 is going to be a year like no other in our history, with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics," Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said. "With so much going on, this is the perfect time to make the most of the UK and take your holiday here."

James Berresford, VisitEngland's Chief Executive, said: "We have thousands of offers up and down the country, which means a family can enjoy great deals on accommodation, meals and tickets to attractions at very affordable prices. Now is the time to holiday at home - there is no comparison anywhere else in the world with what's on offer here in the UK this year."

The campaign includes 2.5 million nights of accommodation and other 20.12 per cent discounts are on offer at The Eden Project, Chatsworth House and The National Maritime Museum, while attractions giant Merlin is offering 25 per cent off their annual pass.

How does it match up to going abroad for price?

Petrol prices are a big consideration when staying in the UK, making travel around the country pretty pricey. Whilst prices are at about the same level across Europe (except in Spain where they remain a bit cheaper), the alternative - train travel - is a considerably cheaper option on the continent than here in the UK.

If you shop around online for some of the better deals, hotel prices are much of a muchness between the UK and Europe, but generally speaking I think nice self-catering accommodation works out much cheaper in Europe than it does in the UK. Of course package deals abroad for families wanting a straightforward sun, sea and sand break will invariably work out cheaper.

The other consideration is food and drink - which is undoubtedly cheaper in Europe, particularly in places like Spain.

I've conducted a not-very-scientific experiment as an example.

A lovely holiday cottage in Cornwall, big enough for family of four and close to the beach will set you back £889 for a week. Then you've either got to get there and back by car (comfortably about £150 in petrol depending on where you're travelling from) or about £100 return on the train (with a family and friends railcard). That's over £1000 before you've included food, drink or transport when you get there. Not to mention activities for the kids if it rains.

The same family can stay 7 nights full board at a hotel in Tenerife (including flights) for £1376. OK, it's not the same kind of holiday but it's considerably cheaper, and you've got pretty much guaranteed sunshine.

That's not to say that having a holiday in the UK is not enjoyable, I absolutely think it is. But just how many families will genuinely think they can save money by doing so I'm just not sure.

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