TOURISM businesses are set to benefit from a massive surge in ‘staycation’ spending, a report suggests.

Barclays says expenditure from domestic tourists in the south west will rise by 26 per cent to more than £13.2bn by 2017.

The research suggests domestic tourism will be fuelled by continuing pressure on the cost of living, with many consumers shunning overseas travel.

Martin French, Barclays’ head of large corporate banking in the south west, said: “The economy is improving and confidence is certainly growing, and while this will lead to a gradual rise in the number of consumers looking to holiday abroad again, it is unlikely to precipitate a return to the holidaying habits we were seeing prior to the downturn.”

Barclays, which commissioned the research for its retail and hospitality-and-leisure sector teams, expects pubs and restaurants to be the biggest beneficiaries, with spending expected to rise by 28 per cent to £4.2bn regionally. Hotels and B&Bs could see domestic spending rise by 27 per cent to £2.7bn.

Samantha Richardson, director of the National Coastal Tourism Academy in Bournemouth, said: “A number of reports issued over the last few months support the Barclay’s research.

“Tourism is one of the few sectors to grow during the recession and there is common agreement that this will continue – the extent of that growth, though, is much debated.”

She added: “Bournemouth is well placed to capitalise on the trend towards ‘staycations’ showing growth over the last few years.”

Robin Barker, organiser of the Dorset Tourism Awards, said: “It’s always good to see predictions of underlying growth, but no tourism business should rest on its laurels and assume that growth will automatically result in more business for themselves. Tourism is far too dynamic a sector for that to happen, with numerous short and long-term impacts that businesses need to plan and be prepared for.

“The storms earlier this year and resulting media coverage should remind everyone of that.”

He pointed out that the pound was currently at its strongest position against the euro and the dollar for years.

“There are also all kinds of external threats such as Michael Gove’s clamp-down on family holidays in term time, pessim-istic weather fore-casts and the World Cup, all of which should be considered as part of a tourism business’s marketing plans,” he said.

“In parallel there are fantastic opportunities – our ever-improving food and drink offering, the greatest range of attractions in the world, digital communications and outstanding quality, which should be built on.”

He said it was important to “carry on investing in quality infrastructure, staff, and market-ing”.