The head of tourism in Cornwall has urged a note of caution after a holiday cottage company encouraged visitors to 'staycation' as a "safer option"., which specialises in holiday cottages in the county, described Cornwall as "one of the country's most popular destinations" and encouraged visitors to book as soon as possible, saying it had already seen a sharp increase in demand for properties listed on its website for the coming months.

The company, which has its office in Truro, said while there were still cottages and holiday homes available to book, the "higher than usual level of demand means holidaymakers would be advised to book early to avoid missing out on some of the best properties."

Its website is taking bookings from July 4 onwards.

Graham O'Shea, managing director of Cornwall Cottages, said: "Cornwall is the ultimate holiday destination for many people, owing to its location on the south-west coast of England; its beaches are amongst the best in the country and its relaxed atmosphere and climate creating a feeling of being abroad.

"Many holidaymakers faithfully return every year and feel comfortable in the familiar environment and safe in this idyllic location irrespective of whether they are families with children, young couples or older travellers alike.

"I expect lots of people will want to holiday in the UK, as they will see this as a much safer and cheaper option going forward.

"They will be able to use their own transport to travel to Cornwall, therefore avoiding possible time-consuming airport health checks and being stuck in crowds.

"They will also be able to get home quickly and easily if the need arises, especially in the event of regulations changing at short notice and without the stress and cost of trying to change overseas flight tickets."

The company said safety was of "prime concern this year" and property owners would "be ensuring all the strict coronavirus health guidance is implemented and adhered to especially around cleaning."

It went on to say: "Thanks to their often isolated locations, lack of communal areas with strangers and private food preparation facilities, cottages and holiday lettings are more attractive than ever, as they provide guests with minimal contact with others, respecting social distancing rules and provide peace of mind for travellers who can get on with the business of relaxing."

Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, urged a note of caution against presenting Cornwall as an isolated area, saying: "We don't know where the virus is and people will be out and about. I think to say this is unwise."

He said that the government had given advice to tourism businesses to be making preparations for July 4, but stressed that any bookings made from that date should be provisional and come with a warning that they must comply with the new government guidelines, when these are received.

"It would be unwise not to be ready," he said, "but also with a cautionary note, that you might be in the starting blocks but waiting a while for when the gun goes off.

"We don't know whether we will be open on the 4th."

Mr Bell added: "I think it's better to say come down, enjoy your holiday but within the government guidelines of social distancing, washing your hands, taking extra precautions, planning carefully where you go and respecting local people."