Hopeful holidaymakers across the UK are eager to get away on some form of mini-break once the lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Following a gruelling ten weeks of the government’s stay at home orders, the promise of Phase 3 of lockdown possibly allowing caravan and campsites to reopen has sparked staycation hopes. However, the owner of one of the UK’s largest networks of campsites says they still may not be able to open safely due to lack of guidance from the government.
Holiday parks and campsites have begun to outline various health and hygiene methods they will enforce to stop the spread of COVID-19, but things may not be so simple for traditional campsites. It is a growing concern for small and independent campsite owners, who say without the right safety methods in place, they may have to remain closed.
Martin Smith, the owner of Campsites.co.uk, conducted a survey amongst campers to discover how their holiday habits might be impacted by the pandemic.
With eight in 10 campers saying they would check the measures a campsite is taking to operate safely before booking, it is clear these hygiene methods are a top priority for everyone, yet campsites say they have not had instruction from the government on how they can be enforced.
Respondents shared that they would expect sites to reduce facilities for the summer, with the majority of respondents saying they would not use swimming pools, adventure playgrounds or indoor play areas.
Caravan & campsites: Campsite owner urges government to give clearer guidance
Yet 85 percent of tent and camper van guests expect shared shower blocks to be open, which Smith says is just one example of the difficulties facing the industry.
“Campsite owners don’t know if shower facilities are safe to open and what provisions they must put in place to protect their customers. “They need clear and definitive Government advice to open safely this summer,” said Mr Smith.
“Much of the information that has come out is geared towards sites that provide caravan accommodation that is self-contained. But the situation for tents and glamping, where shared facilities are essential, is much less clear.
“Campsite owners tell us that they may need to close their tent pitches and focus solely on touring which, for many, will make a bad year even worse.”
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According to VisitBritain, if lockdown measures persist until August, the UK’s tourism industry could be left with an £11 billion black hole.
Britons are being urged to book staycations in a bid to help revive the industry, however, without the right safety instructions, Mr Smith says the damage could be much worse.
“Visit Britain has talked about introducing a Kitemark to help accommodation owners prove they are adhering to the highest COVID-19 safety standards,” he continued.
“That sort of advice is needed urgently if campsites are to have time to put the recommendations in place for the start of summer.”
If campsites are given further guidance, the survey shows that Britons are eager to book up, and summer holidays could be the slice of much-needed joy after months of sadness and uncertainty for many.
The survey found that more than 91 percent of people want campsites open by July 4, with 43 percent of those polled ready to holiday right away.
Yet, travel expert Simon Calder has suggested that there is some risk to planning a holiday before the government has been vocal about if they will let UK holidays go ahead.
Map of staycation hotspots across the UK
Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, travel expert Simon Calder explained Britons can “think about” booking, and can even make moves to putting bookings in place, but they should bear in mind the risks.
“At the moment you can not go and stay anywhere, no not even in a tent or caravan. You have to stay overnight at your main dwelling.
“So no one is going anywhere for anything that you could possibly describe as a holiday,” he said.
“You can start dreaming about it.
“You can ever start booking, but be warned that quite a lot of accommodation providers are entirely reasonably going to say ‘if you can’t get here because of government restrictions then we are not going to give you a full refund in cash, we will allow you to postpone your booking until later in the year or maybe 2021.’
“You can’t be absolutely certain that you will just get your cash back if you can’t get there.”