Update from The Camping and Caravanning Club
We took the decision to close our Club Sites on Sunday 22 March and as of today, all of our 103 Club Sites across the UK remain closed as well as our Certificated Site network.
We believe that the outdoors will never feel greater and we can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites – but for now we must all play our part in making that day come sooner by following governmental guidance on self-isolation, social distancing and non-essential travel.
We will only open when it’s safe to do so in line with Government requirements, and would encourage people to holiday closer to home. We are constantly monitoring government advice and will follow guidance on social distancing. Keeping our employees and members safe and well is, and always will be, our first priority, and if people do choose to take a holiday we want them to feel comfortable staying on our sites.
While we remain closed we have:
• Advised members that we will move or fully refund bookings while our touring sites are closed • Extended membership for as long as our sites are closed • Ensured any future bookings made while our sites are closed are fully flexible • Extended our booking window to 18 months for our members.
As with many businesses we would welcome any further government guidance around social distancing such as being able to offer the provision of toilet block facilities. We are in a fairly unique position to be able to open up our business, when the time is right, with or without such facilities. Many people that stay on our sites will have their own washroom in their caravan or motorhome, which would allow us to operate with toilet blocks closed. However we are conscious that not opening these facilities would mean that a core group of our tent camping customers would be unable to stay unless they brought along their own utility tent with portable toilet. Overall we believe that keeping facilities open (if they can be maintained safely and with no risk to our staff or customers) is preferable, with more options for handwashing and cleaning rather than having fewer washing facilities.
We believe that when we re-open, life will not go back to normal straight away and we’re currently working with research company – Two Ears One Mouth* – to gauge customer sentiment. The company’s latest research indicates:
• 51% of people will favour environments that still implement an element of social distancing
• 53% of people would feel uncomfortable in crowded environments
While we await further guidance on how the country will emerge from lock down and social distancing, and ultimately the Government’s approval to re-open campsites, we are currently planning how that can be implemented including having our Club Sites open with lower occupancy so we can increase the distance between pitches. We’re working through operational considerations including contactless check-in. It is vitally important that anyone choosing to stay with us on one of our Club Sites feels safe and comfortable.
We believe that there will be a desire for people to be able to take a holiday when restrictions are lifted. This is supported by:
• Relatively strong advanced sales for Club Sites in July and August
• Data that suggests August is the most popular month that people are currently considering
• 56% of people saying they would stay in the UK for a holiday, rather than travel abroad when this has ended.
• 44% of people would be interested in staying in a caravan and 32% camping.
• 37% of people are concerned that UK holiday availability will be limited.
Whilst we do expect an upturn in new bookings once we have a clearer picture of what restrictions may or may not still exist in the summer months, we accept that some people will need reassurances and more time before they can go back to enjoying holidays in the great outdoors – we will be here for them too when they feel the time is right.
We believe that when restrictions are lifted it’s important that people support their local area and the recovery of their local economies. With campsites across the country, we would be encouraging people to take breaks not too far from home. A change of scene doesn’t mean a long journey. We would also be supportive and respectful of local tourist board initiatives and destinations where people are being asked not to travel.
Since the Club was created in 1901, we have known of, and advocated, the huge mental and physical benefits that camping can bring. Camping in all its forms puts us on the doorstep of the great outdoors and allows us to spend quality time together in the fresh air and be closer to nature – this will be so important in helping to heal the nation after such a long and unprecedented time of staying in our homes. We believe camping is the perfect way to spend time together – for couples, families, grandparents and grandchildren it can offer some much needed escape and rejuvenation.
Further research demonstrated that 41% of respondents were most looking forward to getting out into the great outdoors. As is everyone at the Club.
When restrictions are lifted on businesses or industry sectors we would urge the Government to take into account our unique position to be able to offer safe, local holidays that support the recovery of the economy, the tourism industry – and people themselves.
The timing of the lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time for a seasonal business like the Club and the financial impact is severe. We generate most of our cash in April through to August. Our recovery will be impacted by this. With minimal camping activity during the winter season it won’t be until next summer that we will be able to start to recover financially. We would urge the Government to continue to support the tourism industry with its initiatives including an extension of the furlough scheme for this sector if travel restrictions continue.
We have been around for more than 100 years and we cannot wait to welcome campers back to our sites but only when it’s safe to do so, and we will adapt our operations to ensure people feel safe and can enjoy – what we’re sure will be – a much needed holiday.
*Source: Two Ears One Mouth Consumer Sentiment Tracker - Online surveys took place on 17th and 24th April among a nationally representative sample of UK Consumers. Base Size 17th April n=273, 24th April n=266. Figures indicate the % that strongly/slightly agree with each statement.
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Notes for Editors
1. The Camping and Caravanning Club is 119-years-old and is the largest and oldest Club in the world for all forms of camping. It has 103 award-winning sites throughout the UK and, through a partnership with the Forestry Commission, runs and manages a further 15 Camping in the Forest touring sites.
2. Get involved: for the latest news, information and inspiration from The Camping and Caravanning Club, and to engage with those who’ve enjoyed holidays with the Club, visit www.facebook.com/thefriendlyclub, www.twitter.com/campandcaravan or check out our Instagram page www.instagram.com/campandcaravan.
3. To view the Club’s comprehensive video directory, visit www.youtube.com/thefriendlyclub.
4. To learn more about the benefits of joining the Club visit www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/jointheclub.