The Scottish locations that are the safest for staycations in the UK

Scotland is the safest place to holiday in the UK this year with low rates of crime and ease of social distancing, according to a new report.

Glen Docherty on the North Coast 500 route. Picture: Steven Gourlay Photography/North Coast 500/North Highland Initiative/PA Wire

From urban Motherwell to the rural Isle of Harris, Paisley in the west to Dunbar in the east, and Kilwinning in Ayrshire, Scottish locations take the top five spots for being the least affected by crime in a Safecation Report, produced by online financial data company, Money.co.uk.

Kilwinning is also third and Motherwell sixth in the list of the best places to holiday while being able to social distance safely, coming behind Gower in West Glamorgan and Keswick in Cumbria.

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Kilwinning Abbey

Despite air bridges now being open, 64 per cent of the UK public have said they are not ready yet to travel by plane and plan to holiday at home, with one staycation reportedly booked every three seconds in early July. According to the report 70 per cent of people plan on taking a staycation, which could add £27 billion to the UK economy, and as a result, it has listed the best getaways for people looking to explore the UK in a safe and socially distanced way.

The report looked at locations that are home to the largest public parks, according to Ordnance Survey, and compared them against the UK's most-visited staycations destinations to reveal the safest places to holiday, based on criteria including kilometeres of space, contactless payment availability, free activities, dog friendliness, the number of beaches, caravan parks and camping sites within a 50km radius, April's crime rate statistics, visitors per year to the county, park entry fees and car parking charges.

With only 103,447 visitors to the county of Ayrshire and Arran, the report says the town of Kilwinning is a “hidden gem” for tourists looking to holiday where social distancing is easy. Boasting a ruined abbey in the town centre, Kilwinning is also home to the first Freemason’s Lodge in Scotland, while nearby Eglinton Country Park “offers up to 1,342,270 (one metre distance) visitors the freedom to enjoy country walks across the park's 4.67Km² of open space. If maintaining a two metre distance the attraction can accommodate up to 335,567.52 visitors.”

Motherwell came in sixth with Strathclyde Country Park offering 3.62km² of open space for up to 260,118.72 two metre distanced visitors or 1,040,475 one metre distanced guests.

With holidaymakers potential targets for criminals, the report found Scotland proved the UK’s safest country for a staycation: Motherwell, Isle of Harris, Paisley, and Dunbar all recorded no crimes in April 2020 with Kilwinning only reporting one.

Motherwell also came in second place for the best budget-friendly staycation destination thanks to Strathclyde Country Park's free nature trails, adventure play parks, and water activities for all abilities and ages.

Money.co.uk’s consumer spending expert Salman Haqqi, said: “Campsites, holiday parks and hotels all over the nation are ready and waiting to welcome guests back, but even with strict social distancing guidelines in place, overcrowding can still be a problem in tourist honeypots.

“Our report shows that a destination like Glasgow can only host around eight per cent of its usual annual visitors taking one metre social distancing into account, whereas there is plenty of space for everyone in Kilwining or Motherwell.

“It’s not just wide-open spaces that need to be considered when booking, the report found that 52 per cent of the new destinations had contactless payment options available for parking, food and drinks, shopping and leisure activities.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive, VisitScotland welcomed the report, and said: “As the Scottish tourism industry navigates out of the Covid-19 crisis and begins to welcome visitors once more, it is encouraging to see research indicating people are planning a holiday at home this year.

"Scots have a crucial part to play in getting tourism back on track by taking simple actions such as dining out, visiting an attraction, shopping locally, taking a day trip or booking a staycation. Our new campaign celebrates the huge variety of activities we have right across the country, showing you don’t have to travel too far to have a fantastic experience.

"Recovery will require our collective efforts and we must act as one to ensure the best possible outcomes for the whole of the visitor economy. However, it is important that we respect that tourism might not look the same as before, and we ask people to follow the recommended guidelines – be responsible, respect local communities, and shop locally. As restrictions lift, we would also urge visitors to ‘know before they go’ checking online whether attractions and businesses are open and welcoming visitors.”

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