On the 23rd March 2020 our understanding of normal came to an end. We saw our caravan and motorhome dealerships close and our campsites close their gates. But what happens now? In this blog we will explain how the leisure industry will re-open and what the National Caravan Council (NCC) has been doing.
When are dealerships opening?
After consideration by the Government, dealerships will be able to open again from Monday 1st June 2020. The NCC has been lobbying for the leisure industry to be able to get back on its feet and support tourism in the U.K too.
Although dealerships will be open there will be some changes. Social distancing will have to be adhered to and guidelines followed. For some dealerships this will mean an appointment system to view leisure vehicles. Most have updated their websites of the policies they will be following.
Can I get my leisure vehicle serviced now?
Yes, the majority of dealerships will be opening their service centres and working their way through the demand following cancellation of planned services. It is permitted to tow your caravan or drive your motorhome to a booked service. Dealerships have practices in hand to ensure you and their staff are kept safe.
When will I be able to use campsites again?
This is the question everyone wants to know right now. I am sure many of us will have a holiday booked in the coming months and are worried if it will go ahead. At this time, suggested guidance is sites will start to re-open from the 4th July. Factors beyond our control may change this but right now at least we have a date.
When they do open it is likely many of the facilities will be closed or reduced for safety and social distancing reasons.
What have the NCC been doing on our behalf?
The below is direct from the NCC to answer this question. Nick Page, Swift Group Commercial Director, has given his thoughts too.
Industry releases guidance and best practice for caravan parks to operate safely
Caravan and motorhome dealerships to reopen amid growing interest during COVID-19 crisis
– Motorhome /caravan dealerships to reopen on 1 June 2020
– Industry releases COVID-19 industry guidance; NCC continues to press government to allow socially distanced and safe holiday parks and touring sites to reopen as soon as possible
– Surge in staycation and UK destination interest
The industry has released guidelines for caravan parks to coincide with the announcement that caravan and motorhome dealerships can reopen on 1 June alongside car showrooms.
The guidelines will ensure strict social distancing and hygiene protocols are in place for when visitors with holiday caravans, motorhomes and touring caravans can return to parks. The trade body, the NCC (National Caravan Council), now urges the government to enable parks to reopen as soon as possible.
In the meantime, motorhome and caravan dealerships across the country are preparing for reopening on Monday, after a surge in interest online in caravans and motorhomes.
British leisure vehicle manufacturer, Swift Group, recently revealed its web traffic has increased over 40% since the Prime Minister’s statement on 10 May compared to the two weeks prior, with growth driven by a younger audience between 18 to 44 years old, whose visits to the site are up by nearly 50%.
Nick Page, Group Commercial Director from Swift Group explains:
“We are seeing a really promising trend emerging, which after a hard-few months for the industry, is welcome news to UK caravan and motorhome manufacturers. Holiday parks are a brilliant option to enable social distancing, and as caravans and motorhomes are self-contained, will be one of the safest holiday options for those looking to get out around the UK this year.”
An NCC survey from this week confirmed 93% of those surveyed intend to holiday or take a short break in the UK after the lockdown compared to 84% who booked/planned a UK holiday or short break beforehand. This demonstrates a substantial shift towards UK domestic tourism as an option for holidaymakers.
In the first months after lockdown, 70% of UK adults said they perceive a holiday caravan-based UK break as a socially acceptable activity. Motorhoming did even better, with 77%, indicating it as an appealing option. These holiday types were regarded as much more acceptable than, say, a city break to a major European city. A Longwoods survey found that 82% of people travelling in 2020 made changes to their travel plans due to COVID-19.
In further good news for the industry, the NCC’s members’ recent lobbying campaign, to ensure that motorhome and caravan dealerships in England can open at the same time as car showrooms, has been successful. The government has now confirmed caravan and motorhome dealerships, most of which are predominantly outdoors, can reopen in England on 1 June.
The NCC is also working with the government to allow the safe re-opening of caravan holiday parks and touring sites in England as soon as possible. At present those offering holiday accommodation – such as hotels and resorts as well as caravan parks – may be permitted to open from 4 July. The NCC is calling on the government to lift the closure notices on caravan parks across the UK so they can reopen as soon as possible, as it issues extremely robust safety guidelines.
The guidance outlines advice to enable caravan parks to develop their own COVID-19 safety protocol and give assurances that measures have been put in place to protect staff, customers and, as a consequence those in the nearby local community, so they can reopen. A phased opening of caravan parks has been proposed by the NCC to the government.
Unlike hotels, there are no safety issues with shared facilities or accommodation at caravan parks, as the units are self-contained and 95% are privately owned, thus providing a safe form of holiday accommodation. Caravans and motorhomes are ‘socially distanced by design’ and rules on parks mean that caravans must be 5 or 6 metres apart. The vast majority of caravans have their own cooking and washing facilities, providing the safest form of holidaying possible at the moment.
NCC Director General, John Lally commented:
“The reopening of dealerships is a huge relief for the industry as we are able to start to respond to the public interest in both renting and buying caravans and motorhomes in the coming months. The UK’s holiday parks benefit from rural and coastal locations, away from densely populated urban areas, and each park is working to put in place social distancing measures which will make it the best option for holidays in the UK this year. We are working with the government to look into reopening holiday parks as early as possible with strict social distancing measures, as outlined in the guidance, to enable the industry to get back to work and hard-working families to enjoy full use of their caravans again.”
The NCC’s Freedom To Go website www.freedomtogo.co.uk, enables holiday makers to rapidly search for campsite and holiday park options from one location, as well as find motorhome and caravan dealerships to source vehicles for their late summer getaways.
A positive outlook for the future
As we head further in to 2020 only time will tell as to how tourism and leisure will fare. One thing is sure, there will be much to look forward too.