Campsite owners bemoan lack of guidance over reopening

PUBLISHED: 19:00 16 June 2020

Guy and Maria Hindley, owners of The Croft Campsite Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Guy and Maria Hindley, owners of The Croft Campsite Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN


Many Suffolk campsites are aiming to reopen at the start of next month - but some have already confirmed they will not be welcoming guests back any time soon.

Guy and Maria Hindley, owners of The Croft Campsite, are hoping to welcome guests at the start of July Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGuy and Maria Hindley, owners of The Croft Campsite, are hoping to welcome guests at the start of July Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The government is yet to officially confirm when campsites can open again, though the roadmap unveiled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month suggested some sectors within the hospitality industry could reopen on July 4.

While the coronavirus crisis has forced countless overseas holidays this summer to be scrapped, many owners of Suffolk campsites have said they have been taking bookings for the next few months.

But the absence of official guidance has resulted in a lack of clarity over how campsites will be able to keep their guests safe.

Maria Hindley, who owns the Croft Campsite in Ubbeston with her husband Guy, confirmed her intention to reopen her campsite at the start of next month.

The couple said they have had enquiries for camping throughout the coronavirus lockdown Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe couple said they have had enquiries for camping throughout the coronavirus lockdown Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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She said the pitches at the site will be large enough for families to enjoy and will be spaced out to aid with social distancing, while toilets will be open.

Mrs Hindley believes the open-aired nature of camping means the risk of guests transmitting Covid-19 remains low.

She said: “There has been lots of interest and bookings. We have been taking bookings all the way through the lockdown. People understand the situation.

Campsites in Suffolk may look different when they reopen Picture: GREGG BROWNCampsites in Suffolk may look different when they reopen Picture: GREGG BROWN

“I think a lot of people are wanting to go on holiday now.

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“We’ll still have our campsite running as normal as possible. The measures we have put in place will help keep people safe.”

James Iosbaker, co-owner of St Margaret’s Campsite in Shottisham, said he is “frustrated” at the lack of government guidance - but is still hoping to reopen next month.

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Despite the cancellation of regular social activities at the campsite, such as animal feeding, Mr Iosbaker said he has received enquiries from regular customers.

He added: “Being outside means there’s loads of open space for social distancing. I’m surprised campsites haven’t been allowed to open yet.

“We’re doing everything we can to reopen safely. But we’d like to know as soon as possible.”

Alan Stephens, owner of Paradise Barn in Chediston, said he is not planning on taking any more bookings from campers for the rest of the year.

He said: “We have thought about reopening but we can’t risk anything.

“The toilets and the showers are the main issue as they are shared facilities. They’re a problem.

“If anything, we may relax and allow for self-contained caravans later in the year.”

MORE: Tourist industry in Suffolk hopes to save some of 2020 season, if it is safe

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Through his business, he aims to build a conservation-based economy connecting visitors with Suffolk’s stunning countryside both digitally and physically through safaris and lectures. “I spend most of my time on safari in farmland habitat on the Shotley and Deben peninsulas,” he says. “This guiding season for Spirit of Suffolk started early March and I had several safari bookings as well as two photography workshops planned throughout March and April.” Philip was just one safari into the season – with one urban fox tour under his belt – with the business really taking off when lockdown measures were introduced on March 23, which meant he had to ditch his planned events. Lockdown hit him hard on a personal level too, he admits. “I always thought I would be able to head out to the countryside still, alone, and with caution. 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I think the lockdown period offered a different appreciation for the things around us and I am ever so excited to be with people again and to be showing them all the wonderful wildlife of my favourite spots in Suffolk.” He has had to adapt the tours to ensure safety, but the changes are subtle and don’t detract from the main goal - which is seeing nature, he says. “I now encourage the guest to bring along their own drink and snacks and to also bring their own pair of binoculars. We do wear face coverings while in the vehicle and with the windows open to ensure ventilation. Such changes have been well received by the safari guests and we continue to have some great wildlife viewing.” He’ll be “forever grateful” to his customers and guests for their support and understanding during the pandemic. “Recovery all depends on the current status of local restrictions and the virus itself. I am hoping that a vaccine can be in place as soon as possible. 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