What Has Boosted The Touring Industry?

We weigh in on why sites are becoming so popular

By William Coleman

Since around 2016-17 we have seen the caravan and motorhome holiday become the go to get away of choice for the people of the UK. We even have travellers visiting England, Scotland and Wales to take part in the new “Staycation” craze sweeping the land. What is bringing tourists to our shores, and more importantly, what is keeping the UK resident here for holiday?

There is one stand out thing that I have noticed over the past 18-24 month, the holiday makers are getting a lot younger. It seems as though leisure vehicle homes are very much “in vogue” with the youth of the nation. It would seem that Kos and Magaluf are now the second choice when it comes to getting away for a week.

Social Media Influence

So let me start off with a reason behind why more young folk are taking up touring. Now days it seems as though the vast majority of younger people are on their phones quite a lot, and a lot of that time is being spent on social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

Companies have recognised the huge audiences they can reach by advertising through these websites and apps. They can spend a fraction of the money they do on print media by making video content which can be reused for much less cost and directly reach millions of people.

Another tool social media has is the power of influence. Seeing someone doing something different online in the 2019 version of “word of mouth” advertising, and we know there is nothing better than that when it comes to getting the word out. So many people have become so concerned about how they look online that a lot of people want to “keep up” with others.

Aside from keeping up with the Jones’ people are seeing just how much variety there is out there in regards to getting into the great outdoors and experiencing the beauty the UK has to offer.

It would also seem that any stigma that younger people felt toward the caravan holiday has very much diminished over the past decade or so. No longer is “caravan” a dirty word.

Investing In The Future

The sales of caravan and motorhomes has skyrocketed over the past 2 years, with 2017 being one of the best years the industry has seen in quite some time.

2018 had some very large shoes to fill due to the sales numbers 2017 produced, and 2018 did seem slightly underwhelming when the final numbers were in. That is not to say that last year’s numbers were bad, but they just did not meet the exceedingly high bar set by the previous year.

One of the big reasons people decided to buy new touring homes was to ensure that the future of their holiday making was secure. With a caravan you can take as many holidays as you want for a fraction of the price of flying and you can do it all year round.

Once you have invested in a caravan or motorhome you can let the kids or even the grandchildren use it. Multi generational use and more holidays all year round? Sounds like a winning combination to me.

Not only is the caravan or motorhome ideal for UK tourism, it is also fantastic to take abroad and experience some continental touring.

I spent three weeks touring around Europe in a caravan and was genuinely surprised at just how easy it was getting a caravan into Europe and back. Not to mention the amazing places that a just a short drive away.

Why fly when you can drive and take all of your creature comforts in a home away from that you have tailor made to suit your every need? You can also pack as much HP sauce, baked beans and proper tea bags you’ll need for an extended stay.

Freedom And Choice Without The Cost

They say that variety is the spice of life. Well this is something that has never been truer with a leisure vehicle. Take your hotel with you without having to spend huge accommodation prices.

Monday you can be in Brighton taking in the Great British Seaside and then by Thursday you can be sunning yourself in Bordeaux with a nice chilled glass Cabernet Sauvignon.

A caravan really can open up the world to a traveller. In the 18 months I have been writing for CaravanTimes I have seen 21 different countries and travelled all over the UK. If I were to add the cost of each trip up if I were using a travel agent I would be able to buy another caravan!

The main expense or a caravan holiday, aside from your caravan or motorhome, are fuel costs, which pale in comparison to jet fuel costs. All you need to do is take it easy while driving and find yourself a good towcar with good mileage and then off you go, it really is that simple. Just like that the world becomes your oyster.

The Industry Reaction

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed just how well sites across the UK have evolved to entice the new generation of tourers all while making their current customer base equally as happy. Across the country you are seeing parks investing a lot of money to ensure their business reap the benefits of the current holiday boom.

Companies have realised that moving forward a site needs to be filled with more than just pitches and we are seeing new club houses, shower blocks and in some cases even brand new restaurant being added.

VisitEngland/Scotland/Wales have had a big part to play in the rise in popularity also. The areas, locations and activities they have promoted have fulfilled and inspired the ever growing need for things to see and do when on tour around the UK.

One huge aspect that has drawn the “outsider” to caravan sites is the rental and static side of the caravan world. For not a lot of money you can stay on a campsite in rented accommodation and get a feel for what it’s like to be part caravan community.

Having spoke to a few dealers at the shows and press launches I have found out that this is one of the strongest gateways to get people onto forecourts and eventually into a van of their own. People get a taste of the lifestyle and want to have the freedom of their own van.

Both the Camping and Caravan Club and The Caravan and Motorhome Club have invested heavily in sharing their clubs and facilities to people who do not currently own a van themselves or are actual members. Even those who do own vans are taking advantage of their glamping or motorhome rental services to see another side of touring.

Political Impact

Whether you voted leave or remain I think we can all agree it has been a bit of a turbulent couple of years since the Brexit Referendum. The tourism sector has seen its fair share of ups and downs since the decision to leave was made and it seems we may see a few more over the next year or two.

One huge impact the referendum has had is on the strength of the GBP, and what a roller coaster ride it has been in the 2+ years since the nation decided on its independence.

I was slightly unlucky, just after the vote I was heading to Italy and needed to change up some cash to get some Euros. I was not overly happy with the exchange rate, something that a lot of us in the UK have experienced. Depending on the market it can actually be very expensive getting enough Euros to see you through a trip away.

It is in my belief that the poor £ has influenced a lot of people to stay home for the holidays. I know that I have chosen a short break here in the UK due to it. You know that when the Euro is worth more than the GBP some people will stay well clear of the EU for holiday.

As we draw closer to leaving a lot of conversations I am having with friends is about where to stay in the UK for the holidays. With the great weather we are seeing across the summer it is sometimes a better option to stay home.

The future does seem to be shrouded in uncertainty and there is a feeling that we, as a nation, are becoming slightly unpopular across the European continent which may make some people think twice about travelling abroad. So at least we can say we will benefit from more people taking up the caravan holiday post Brexit.