Camping leaders’ SOS call to Number 10: “Save our summer”
THE DIRECTOR GENERALS of the three leading names in UK camping have joined forces and written to the Prime Minister urging him to ‘Save Our Summer’. The Caravan and Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club which operate 4000 campsites and have nearly 2 million members between them, together with the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) which represents 2,165 holiday parks, touring parks and campsites have pleaded with the Prime Minister not to leave the sector behind.
With the uncertainty around foreign travel, in past weeks many families have turned their attention to the possibility of a great British break. Campsites have been reporting record bookings and the prospect of staycations, supporting the recovery of local areas, had looked to be on the cards giving a glimmer of hope to the industry, to start the long journey of financial recovery.
Following Government guidance, both Clubs and the BH&HPA have been building plans around a 4th July opening in England. They have been working at an industry level and have provided input into how campsites and holiday parks can open safely as well as publishing their own operational measures that will be in place. A spokesperson for the three organisations said: “While all three organisations have always said we will only re-open when the Government tells us it is safe to do so, we were dismayed to see in the press over the weekend that, while hotels and bed and breakfasts will be allowed to open on the 4th July, tourist sites with shared facilities, such as campsites, will have to wait longer before being given the green light.
“We will of course only open when it’s safe, but we’d call on the UK and devolved governments not to leave us behind other areas when making decisions on re-opening. It now looks like there’s a real possibility that you will be able to go a pub before you can sit in your own self-contained caravan or motorhome on a campsite.”
There is a very reduced risk from COVID in the fresh air of the great outdoors and European campsite operators report that no country has reopened its hospitality sector, leaving campsites closed because of their wash blocks. In Italy, where the industry reopened a month ago, there have been no reports of issues. Customers are social distancing responsibly and very grateful for the opportunity of fresh air holidays.
Campsite operators have carried out full assessments of each site to ensure that all will be operating to COVID Secure guidelines as published by the Government. Pitches are well spaced and at least 6 metres apart, there will be increased cleaning protocols of communal areas, contactless arrival and departure will be available where possible and most common areas will be open with social distancing measures in place. This could include toilet blocks, laundry, information rooms, water and waste points.
In normal circumstances visitors to sites spend some £700,000,000 pa in rural communities. However, caravanners and motorhomers can follow their leisure activity in a self-contained manner, with all of their own supplies and amenities within their outfit, thereby having a low impact on the area they visit. For those campers that would require facility blocks the industry also points out that shared WC and shower facilities are already in use for lorry drivers in motorway service stations, factory workers as well as in shops, offices and public conveniences and will soon be in use in tourist attractions that are also preparing to open.
The spokesperson said: “Whilst opening only to self-sufficient campers would certainly be preferable than a delayed opening, we really would like to open up with our full facilities where we can. The holidays we provide are amongst the most socially inclusive and affordable. We have so many people desperate to take a break and spend some much needed time away from home. Delaying even by a few weeks would mean cancelling tens of thousands of UK getaways – holidays that are a vital part for the nation’s economic recovery and also for the well being of individuals.”
As seasonal businesses campsites and holiday parks have a limited time to generate revenue, and so far they’ve been shut for nearly 100 days. The industry has lost millions of pounds, jobs have been lost and smaller independent operators are also struggling.
The spokesperson added: “We genuinely believe we’re in a sector that can offer a socially distanced break in the fresh air and the great outdoors where the risks are far lower and we can’t wait to welcome our holiday makers back.”