With the camping industry lacking clear guidelines on how to open safely for the summer, a survey of 7,000 people has shined a light on campers expectations for the months ahead.
Conducted by camping and glamping specialist Campsites.co.uk (https://www.campsites.co.uk/resources/coronavirus-survey-results), the study finds that 91% of people say they think tourism should be opened up by the beginning of July, and details the raft of changes they believe sites must make to keep guests safe.
Demand for travel is high
In a sign of people’s eagerness to get away, 43% of those polled say campsites should open before July. This isn’t just the view of frustrated millennials and stressed out parents. 42% of respondents aged 65 and over said the same.
Encouragingly for business owners, people are warming to the idea of buying holidays again. Just over a quarter (27%) of respondents say they are ready to book now, 23% will book a few weeks ahead before they travel, and 28% plan to book within a week of departing. Only 17% say they are definitely not ready to book.
Customers expect campsites to change
There are huge levels of interest in camping for the summer ahead, but the majority of those polled expect campsites to reduce pitches to manage social distancing,
- 53% think campsites should close one in four of their pitches
- 23% expect sites to cut the number of pitches by half
Reducing pitches is just one of the steps guests want campsites to take. Among the most popular measures suggested are,
- More regular and enhanced cleaning (77%)
- Installing hand sanitiser stations (75%)
- Setting policies about onsite etiquette (72%)
- Pre-allocating pitches and ensuring they are set well apart (67%)
- Offering a contactless check-in and check-out (66%)
- Providing advice before arrival (47%)
- Moving receptions outdoors, or giving guests a mobile number to text (43%)
- Adding floor markings to help with social distancing (42%)
Travellers are likely to shun many of the usual shared facilities, saying they won’t use swimming pools (62%), indoor soft play (79%), games rooms (72%) and outdoor adventure playgrounds (61%) even if they are available.
However, 85% expect showers to be open and almost 70% of tent and camper van guests would use them if available. 45% of respondents want sites to allocate shower and toilet facilities to guests or sets of guests.
Martin Smith, founder of Campsites.co.uk, says this is an example of the challenges facing the industry for the season ahead: “Campsite owners need the Government to publish clear advice in the same way it has for other sectors, such as offices and retail.
“Much of the advice that has come out so far has been geared towards holiday parks and touring sites where caravan accommodation is self contained. But the situation for tents and glamping, where shared facilities are essential, is much less clear.
“Shower blocks is a good example of the uncertainty facing campsite owners. Customers expect them to be open, but campsites don’t know if it is safe. They need help to be sure.
“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.
“There is clearly demand from customers who are ready and willing to travel, but the campsite industry needs clear advice so they can open up safely and confidently.
“Visit Britain has talked about introducing a Kitemark to help accommodation owners prove they are adhering to the highest COVID-19 safety standards. That sort of advice is needed urgently if campsites are to have time to put the recommendations in place for the start of summer.”
Despite their concern for using many shared facilities, more than 60% of those surveyed say they will be happy to use onsite cafés and restaurants, and over 90% will go to the campsite shop.
The survey suggests campsite owners face a difficult decision over whether to raise prices to try and offset their losses for the year so far. When asked if they would be happy to pay a surcharge to help cover the campsite’s additional costs, 24% said yes and 27% said no, with 49% undecided.
The research is available to all campsite owners for free at Campsites.co.uk, https://www.campsites.co.uk/resources/coronavirus-survey-results