Strong domestic holiday demand is being driven by heightened expectations of warm UK weather after this summer’s heatwave, tourism chiefs say.

Last week, VisitBritain predicted a bumper bank holiday August, with 7.3 million people expected to take a UK break as the hottest summer since the 1970s draws to a close.

Official 2018 numbers are not yet available, but regional tourism bodies and businesses are reporting record numbers.

Pete Waters, executive director of Visit East Anglia, said the weather had had a “huge impact”, complemented by the weak pound and chaos at air and ferry ports.

“[Domestic] accommodation providers are reporting good bookings and, with customers thinking this summer’s fine weather is the new norm, are experiencing strong bookings for next year,” he said. “If people know what they want, they book early.”

UK chain Hallmark Hotels reported a year-on-year rise in July and August bookings of 96% – up 2,000 – across its 26 properties.

Head of Hallmark, David Grosfils, said: “We’ve seen a summer of records, including visitor numbers to some locations such as Cornwall.”

Last-minute cottage booking website Snaptrip.com reported a strong link between UK temperatures and Google searches.

Chief executive Matt Fox said: ““This summer we’ve seen more Brits holidaying in the UK than ever and it is clear that the heatwave has played a massive part in this.

“When looking at sales data, we can see a substantial rise in people booking staycations during hot periods in comparison to when the weather is cooler.

“The staycation market has boomed off the back of the heatwave as people discovered there’s no need to leave the country for their summer holiday.

“It’s great to hear that this increase in staycations has not only benefited holiday providers, there has been a peak in visits to national parks and heritage sights and motorway service stations have seen a rise in volume of sales due to more people travelling by car.

“We hope the heatwave has inspired people to continue making the most of the amazing places that are on our doorstep in the UK.”

Shearings Holidays has updated its agent toolkit and was sending out 2019 brochures this week.

Managing director Jane Atkins said: “This summer we have had evidence of last minute demand particularly to the seaside resorts.

“However, our customers tend to be more flexible so they generally book further in advance rather than days before.”

“To help agents with any demand they are experiencing for UK holidays next year, our 2019 UK programme is now live and bookable with brochure being distributed to agents from this week.

“Our agent toolkit has been updated with all sorts of collateral that agents can use to promote 2019 UK breaks both in their window and on social media whilst the hot weather of this summer is still fresh in customers minds.

“Agents need to remember that by booking early customers will have the best choice of seats on the coach and rooms at the hotels.”

VisitEngland Director Patricia Yates said: “We are hearing from many destinations and tourism businesses that they are experiencing a strong summer.

“The certainty of budgeting for a holiday at home, the ease and convenience, are all contributing to people choosing to take more domestic trips.”

MoreHeatwave has hit flight bookings, Travelport confirms

Prolonged heatwave drives late bookings surge at Hoseasons

August bank holiday staycation boost forecast