Most businesses in the domestic tourism industry – including caravan parks, self-catering sites and cottages – are expected to remain closed until at least July 4 because of the Covid-19 crisis.
But the British Holiday and Home Parks Association, which represents more than 2,000 holiday and touring parks, is urging officials not to lump the entire industry together as the risk of virus transmission is much lower in open-air settings.
Jamie Lamb, owner of Barmoor Castle Country Park, is one of the business owners seeking more clarity on how his vast 200-acre site can reopen following months of lockdown.
He said: “There is a lot of confusion in the holiday park community over when and how we will be able to reopen following the easing of the lockdown.
“But the Government seems to be tarring the whole hospitality and leisure industries with one brush, treating businesses like mine the same as restaurants and bars despite the huge differences in how we operate.
“At Barmoor Castle, our self-sufficient caravans and lodges have considerable space between them and it is an ideal place to practice social distancing.
“We have been working very hard in recent months to make the park as safe as possible for when we reopen, including closing communal areas and upgrading facilities.
“There simply isn’t the same risk here as there would be in more crowded hospitality and leisure industries.
“This is a very tough time for small and medium-sized businesses across the country and yet the advice many of us are receiving is vague and unhelpful.
“Allowing businesses like mine to reopen sooner would be a major shot in the arm for the local economy and help save jobs and livelihoods.”
The site is one of 2,133 holiday and touring parks represented by the British Holiday and Home Parks Association, which has written to the Government to call for greater support to address the plight of seasonal tourism businesses.
Domestic tourism is expected to rise this year as restrictions on flying abroad causes families to rethink their usual summer getaways.
Hospitality and leisure facilities such as Barmoor Castle fall into Step Three of the Government’s easing of lockdown restrictions, but officials want holiday homes to be brought into Step Two instead.
In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the BH&HPA’s Director General Ros Pritchard said: “One size does not fit all.
We ask please that urgent consideration is given to allowing our customers access to self-contained accommodation without shared facilities in Step Two.
“For households which own their holiday caravan, the social distancing requirements would be identical to those they already follow in their primary residence.
“For holidaymakers who rent holiday caravans and other accommodation from us (without shared facilities),we have well-developed social distancing measures which would safeguard against the risk of infection.
“Consideration to allow those customers who may return safely to do so as soon as possible would assist these distressed tourism businesses.
“This would also support our beleaguered manufacturing supply chain and in turn, the employment they provide.”
Barmoor Castle Country Park, based near Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, is one of the UK’s most popular luxury lodge and caravan parks.
In 1979, farmer Hedley Lamb and wife Ann bought the derelict castle and 12 surrounding acres and embarked on an ambitious project to turn it into a sought-after caravan park.
Following 11 years of careful restoration and building, the park opened in 1990 and over time it became a much-loved family business that is now run by the couple’s son Jamie and his wife Jodi.