Sabina Voysey, Director General of The Camping and Caravanning Club, said:
All of us at the Club can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites. We think that spending time in the great outdoors at places such as campsites will be just the break people need after spending so much time at home.
Being out in the fresh air, the physical space between pitches and with additional social distancing and cleaning measures, we believe that we are well-placed to offer a safe, enjoyable break. Re-opening our campsites will allow many families to actually get a holiday this year and have a fantastic time exploring closer to home.
The UK tourism sector desperately needs some semblance of a summer season to help businesses start to recover. We’ve lost £25million during our closure period and even as a large organisation it’s been a hugely testing time. There are many small and family-owned businesses that desperately need tourists to visit along with independent campsite and holiday park operators that need to be open to survive.
Of course, we will only open when it’s safe to do so – the safety of our staff and campers has been our top priority from the start. We’ve been working with various industry bodies and have fed in our recommendations to government as to how we believe we can operate safely – we’re really hopeful the sector will get some clear operational guidance so campers can return with confidence.
Opening up a campsite network like ours is logistically complex, it takes time and we’ve been doing a lot of work operationally to make sure we’re ready. We’ve had to make the best plan that we can for this moment in time. What sites we’re going to open, if we can open facility blocks, when we can bring staff back, new ways of managing sites and processes to follow. We’re legally shut, and the earliest we could possibly open in England is from the 4th July but with other areas of the economy opening back up we really need a steer from the UK and devolved governments – getting confirmed opening dates and official guidance for each nation is becoming critical.
We already know that camping will be a popular choice; when we surveyed our Club members, 85% stated they had either made a booking or planned to.
We believe people cannot wait to have a holiday. We’ve made our bookings fully flexible and refundable and we’ve seen that people are prepared to take a chance on making a booking in the hope that we’ll be open. We’ve also seen lots of new members join the club which is fantastic – we hope that a whole new group of people will discover how great a holiday in a tent, caravan, campervan or motorhome can be.
After 3 months of very little income, we’ve now seen a huge boost in sales and bookings over the past few weeks.
- Sales over the past 3 weeks are up 70% compared to this time last year
- July and August are proving popular months and sales are already ahead of last year
- We’ve seen our biggest single sales day in ten years and last week was our strongest ever week of bookings
- Only 2% of our members surveyed wouldn’t consider a camping holiday because of Covid-related reasons.
The Club has a long history of working well with local communities and of our members supporting local economies. Some people will be understandably apprehensive about the potential impact of the return of visitors to their areas. We are asking our campers to follow social distancing guidelines on and off the site, and to show consideration to local residents’ feelings – we believe our members’ thoughtfulness will help reassure any concerns residents may have.
Of course, we will only re-open when the Government tells us it is safe and we’re legally able to do so, but as an organisation we are ready and we know our members want to camp. With more than 100 years’ experience we believe we can operate responsibly and after 3 long months of closure we can’t wait to welcome campers back.
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.
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.
Our opening plan:
The team is working towards potentially reopening campsites in England from July 4 as part of the UK Government’s phase 3 plans to ease restrictions. We are also working towards the provisional opening dates of from July 15 for Scotland. Provisionally Northern Ireland campsites and caravan parks are now scheduled to reopen from June 26, before the proposed re-opening date for campsites in England, though we will continue to work towards the July 4 date. We are also closely monitoring developments in Wales and await notification of the proposed re-opening dates by the Welsh Parliament.
At the current time we plan to open the majority of Club Sites, including as many as possible with toilet block facilities. Opening with toilet and shower facilities will only happen if we’re allowed to do so by the relevant governments for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Some campsites however, will open without toilets and showers. In order to operate our sites in a responsible manner we will be increasing our cleaning regimes; where facility blocks are open there will be 2 deep cleans a day and 4 supplementary cleans – this places extra demand on our staff so we have had to look at campsites which are better suited to self-sufficient campers where facility blocks will not be open this season.
Unfortunately it’s likely that 26 sites will remain closed for the rest of the season.
You can view a list of our Club Sites and whether they’re open, open with limited facilities or closed for the remainder of 2020 here.
Our new measures for safer camping:
We have surveyed our members on their hopes, expectations and what would make them feel comfortable on our campsites. While many things remain uncertain, our Operational teams have a draft plan for how we hope to open the Club Site network as soon as we’re legally able to. We have fed in our recommendations to government and will follow any guidelines set out.
- Contactless check in – this will be facilitated by Auto Balance Collect. The balance of any money due for your stay will be taken automatically from the account on the morning of arrival. This means we’ll ask for car registration details when a booking is made. When campers arrive on site, they can remain inside their vehicle and a member of our site staff will welcome them and show them to their allocated pitch.
- Sensible social distancing – our pitches have six-metre spacing and we’ll reduce the number of people on Club Sites with facility blocks so we can manage demand.
- There will be signs and floor markings as a common sense reminder to keep two metres from other people.
- Where facility blocks are open there will be 2 deep cleans and 4 supplementary cleans a day and guidance on how many people the block can accommodate at one time. Campers will also be able to pitch their own toilet tent on their allocated pitch.
- On campsites where facility blocks are open, we’d ask that if people are able to use their own facilities in their unit, they do so as much as possible – this will help us manage demand and queuing.
- We’re only allowing individual bookings and with well-managed sites we can prevent large groups assembling.
- Campers will not be able to have any day visitors to their pitches – this will help us limit the number of people on sites.
- Whilst our washing up areas will remain open, communal areas such as receptions, shops, laundries and play areas will remain closed. Campers need to ensure they bring all
their essentials with them – we will also be unable to sell gas.
- Service points will be open – please follow hand washing guidance; whilst we will have this available on sites, we’d ask campers to also bring with them their own supplies of soap and hand sanitiser.
- We will not be opening our Ready Camp Safari Tents, Pods or Self-Catering units this season.
Links to further information:
Our main website page for Coronavirus information is here: https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/helpandadvice/travelplanning/coronavirus/