UK pandemic camping holidays boom, figures show | Travel & leisure

The prospect of makeshift beds, a campfire kitchen and long-range toilets was once a daunting sight for holidaymakers, but new research underscores the scale of the nationwide camping boom during Covid, as millions of people traded foreign lounge chairs for s’mores and sleeping bags.

According to market researchers Mintel, one in five UK adults has been on a camping or caravanning holiday since the start of the pandemic. Among them, around 4.5 million were sleeping in a tent or caravan for the first time, he estimated.

With overseas travel often out of reach, spending on such travel jumped to £2.7billion in 2021. That was almost 80% more than in 2020, when lockdowns kicked in. decimated travel plans.

The affordability of these types of vacations has traditionally been the main attraction, but the pandemic has seen an influx of more affluent families into campsites, Mintel said. Almost four in 10 “Covid campers” had a household income above £50,000, compared to around a fifth of those camping or caravanning before the crisis.

“Many of these customers are likely to have replaced planned overseas vacations with staycations,” said John Worthington, senior travel analyst at Mintel – and it remains to be seen whether they will return as trips to abroad will open up, but in the context of a cost. of living crisis.

The “growing cost of living crisis has the potential to dampen consumer spending on all types of vacations,” he said. “Camping and caravanning, however, have the advantage of being considered an affordable holiday. Our research shows that “low cost” is considered the main attraction for consumers. »

He added that this part of the holiday market had flourished before when people struggled financially, such as during the 2009 recession, when they traded more expensive overseas trips for low-budget domestic holidays.

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“In the short term, the cost-of-living crisis could attract those with tighter household budgets who are cutting back on more expensive vacations, including potential overseas travel,” Worthington said.

Organizations such as the Camping and Caravanning Club are among groups that have reported strong bookings ahead of the Easter getaway, suggesting Britons, who have invested thousands of pounds in a caravan or other holiday vehicle, including converted motorhomes and vans, are eager to use them again.

Last year, dealers struggled to get their hands on enough minivans as growing numbers under 40, including new dog owners, bought homes on wheels. The British also bought large quantities of camping supplies, almost cleaning out specialist shops ahead of the summer holidays.

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