Caravan parks have seen a boom in demand as lockdown measures are relaxed, providing an unlikely source of economic growth as overseas travel remains largely banned.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that activity in the accommodation and food services industry in the UK increased by 68.6% in April, with the main driver being caravan parks and Holiday rents.
Retail sales have also seen strong growth, with growing demand for caravans and motorhomes as consumers tired of the lockdown packed their bags for spring break at a campground or tourist park.
At Seafield Caravan Park in Northumberland, Carolyn Britton is fully booked until October for vacationers and no longer has permanent spots for sale to would-be caravan owners as demand increases this spring. “Everything is at full capacity, the spring holiday has been one of our busiest,” she said.
Located in the picture-postcard village of Seahouses on the Northumberland coast, Britton’s family have owned the trailer park for over 60 years – and business has never been so successful.
“I just got back from London for my birthday. I couldn’t believe how quiet London is compared to here. Seahouses itself is absolutely choka. People are having fun, take out is busy, chip shops, supermarkets and everything.
After a difficult year in which Britton laid off some of its 60 employees, Seafields faces a different problem. “Sales have stalled because we have no more space to sell,” she said. “Normally we have a few available each year, but at the moment everyone uses their trailer. “
The first stop for Gemma and Gareth Thomas in their new trailer will be Glanusk in the Brecon Beacons, but later in the summer a fortnightly tour of Scotland awaits you.
The couple, who are in their 30s, are among a growing number of millennials embracing RVing. They are also eager to leave, along with many other Brits whose motorhome and holiday bookings helped spur consumer spending in April.
Gemma said it was a common joke between them that they “felt a bit old” when they told people they were going to buy a caravan for the first time, but said their experience of the last vacation told a different story as it was clear that “a lot more people our age are investing in caravans.”
The couple, who live in Ystradgynlais in the Powys, are the proud owners of a Swift Sunrise 890. Priced at £ 26,000, they were wowed by its spacious quarters which include fixed berths and a separate seating area for their children Sophia and Hari.
Not being a fan of package holidays, the couple enjoy the flexibility and freedom that a caravan vacation brings. “Children can run outside rather than being in a hotel room,” she said.
In St Ives, Cornwall, the spring break season has been exceptionally busy for Becki Osborne at Polmanter Tourism Park. “This will probably be the busiest year on record for us, after April and May, and if the rest of the summer goes as planned,” she said.
Every time the government has announced plans to ease lockdown restrictions – and crack down on international travel – Polmanter has seen a surge in interest. “We often have pretty strong advance bookings, but this year in particular we’ve seen a lot more demand for the start of the season than usual. “
With 300 pitches within walking distance of St Ives, Osborne said the family park this year welcomes guests who are taking a camping or caravan vacation in Britain for the first time. Others are returning after first experiencing it in 2020 when the pandemic first limited options for vacationers.
“We’ve talked to a lot of people who think camping is just filthy spiderweb showers and not a lot of luxury, but then they come to a place like ours. You can’t always guarantee the weather, but there is no nicer place than St Ives when the sun is shining, ”she said.