Poll: Caravan park owners hope for ‘golden era’ revival after summer bookings boost

Amanda Bond, Visit Suffolk

Amanda Bond, Visit Suffolk - Credit: Archant

CAMPSITES across the county are hoping for a return to the “golden era” after figures showed more cash-strapped families are opting for budget holidays to beat the economic gloom.

According to The Camping and Caravanning Club, the industry has seen a 14% boost in advance bookings compared to the same time last year.

It contributes nearly £6 billion to the overall UK economy, according to the National Caravan Council (NCC).

Andrew Leaphley, part-owner of The Dell Caravan Park in Thurston, said his visitor numbers have increased every summer for the last seven years, suggesting a return to the industry’s heyday could be on the horizon.

“The last three years have definitely been very good,” he said. “People are opting to holiday more locally because of rising petrol and living costs.

“People can take their TVs and internet with them in their caravans now. Perhaps this is the return of the golden era, who knows? Everyone is saying they are getting busier.”

Dave Miles, owner of Orwell Meadows caravan park in Ipswich, said advance bookings were up 10% on last year’s figures.

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“People are looking to save nowadays and are looking for value for money, which holiday parks represent,” he said.

“People who have never done that sort of holiday before are usually pleasantly surprised with these holidays.”

Karen Wright, part-owner of Heathside Caravans & Camping which opened last year in Wenhaston, said she had been impressed with the number of advance bookings.

“We were full last summer and are getting close to being full again this year,” she said. “When the cold weather goes people will start booking even more.

“Caravan park holidays are very relaxing and people can do what they want. They are a big attraction now. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the country or go abroad for a good holiday.”

Paul Willis, site manager at Southwold Caravan site, said he expected strong bookings for the summer following a successful Bank Holiday period.

“It is likely to be as good as last year,” he said. “Customers are having shorter but more frequent breaks.”

Jenny Pritchard, head of Caravan Industry Training (CITO), said camping holidays have shaken off the “somewhat homespun image of yesteryear”.

She said: “Many more holidaymakers are now discovering the delights they have on their own shores instead of opting to go abroad.

“The options for caravanning and camping have broadened significantly, giving a diverse range of luxury options and ‘glamping’ to accompany those that already exist.”

Amanda Bond, brand manager for Visit Suffolk, said: “Visit Suffolk is experiencing growing interest in caravanning and camping holidays as it is an ideal way to experience our coast and countryside at a reasonable price.

“It is also a great way for families and friends to reconnect with nature and is a popular escape from the stresses and strains of how we live today. Visit Suffolk is working with Visit England to promote rural tourism and we are pleased that many of our tourism businesses are seeing the benefit of this activity.”

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