THE picturesque Ribble Valley is gearing up for a bumper year for tourism as people opt for ‘staycations’ this summer following the coronavirus pandemic.

As domestic Covid-19 restrictions ease but international travel rules remain, many families are seeking accommodation in the UK.

Already the Ribble Valley is seeing a surge in summer bookings.

And its council is taking steps to prepare to ensure holidaymakers can stay safely.

Ribble Valley Borough’s tourism and events officer, Tom Pridmore, said: “Tourism is a key part of our economic strategy and we have worked hard with the Ribble Valley Tourism Association to develop key markets, such as food and drink, walking and weddings.

“Accommodation and hospitality standards in Ribble Valley were among the highest in the UK tourism industry before the pandemic, but are even higher now.

“With continuing uncertainty around international travel, forecasts of a domestic tourism boom have materialised and much of the borough’s accommodation is already booked for the summer.”

Amanda Parker, the owner of the historic Browsholme Hall in the Forest of Bowland near Clitheroe and a former High Sheriff of Lancashire said: “It does look like we are going to have a bumper year in the Ribble Valley for staycations.

“Our enquiries and books a significantly up on last year.

“People are a little nervous about things at the moment and we have vacancies for May but for the rest of the summer we are nearly fully-booked and have very few slots.”

Prior to the pandemic, tourism generated over £260million a year for the Ribble Valley economy and the number of visitors to the borough topped four million, an increase of 7.6 per cent, compared to a Lancashire increase of 1.7 per cent.

Mr Pridmore said: “From history and heritage to some of the best food and drink in the UK, Ribble Valley has a lot to offer, with some fabulous days out."