William Shakespeare, quoting Richard III when the sales were on, penned ‘Now is the discount of our winter tents’, demonstrating how popular camping was even then. As someone who remembers a childhood camping under wet, smelly canvas it is surprising that I still like it now. I guess it must be my inherent sense for the call of the wild. Why, once I went camping in Snowdonia and even France! I’ve been out there Man; I know. I’m not personally so keen on caravans or posh motorhomes which are the required choice of people with soft hands who need to be in a home-from-home with all mod-cons, but I don’t mind a bit of camping.
The good news is that as the UK heads towards what we laughing call Summer it is nearly time for the annual Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show at Birmingham’s NEC which this year is from 21 to 26 February.
Likely because of any economic woes or worries about travelling to foreign climes in these fearful days it seems that just under four out of ten UK adults had experience of camping or caravanning in the past three years.
A total of over 17 million camping and caravanning trips are estimated to have been taken by UK adults in 2016, over 15 million of which were in Great Britain, and include a spectrum of accommodation options from yurts, safari tents and shepherd’s huts to tiny two-berth mini and large luxury caravans, sophisticated motorhomes and holiday lodges.
The ‘total trips taken’ figure is expected to rise to 17.9 million in 2017 and to over 21 million in 2020, and it is forecast that the UK’s camping and caravanning market will be worth over £3.2 billion by 2020. Worth a thought if you have a spare field?
Of those camping in a tent in the last three years, ‘getting away from it all’ is one of the key attractions as well as ‘connecting with nature’. This will be the yurt enthusiasts then. Just 14% overall of those camping would welcome the opportunity to be disconnected from technology with no WiFi or internet, although with connected cars there’s probably no reason to be.
Among those interested in such leisure holidays, 16% plan to buy a tent from 2016 onwards, 9% a towed caravan, 12% a motorhome or campervan, and 10% a static caravan or mobile home. Motorhomes are seen as adventurous and fun, comfortable and family-friendly, with secure, spacious, high quality accommodation.
A multi-destination European trip attracted 55%, while 34% would aim for a North America tour and 37% would use a motorhome to see a sports event.
Market drivers for camping, caravanning and motorhomes trips in recent years include a reduction in petrol prices (at the time of writing the price of fuel is rapidly increasing, inevitably) and a desire for families to reconnect with their environment.
A report published by The Wildlife Trust found that children have become increasingly separated from nature, highlighting that fewer than 10% of children play in natural areas, with 78% of parents concerned their children don’t spend enough time interacting with nature and wildlife, although they are the people who could actually do something about it if they thought it through.
The government’s Climate Change Risk Assessment report of 2012 (produced every five years) predicted that future climate change is likely to improve the appeal of the UK as a holiday destination for both UK and overseas visitors with increased summer temperatures and a longer summer season. We’ll see.
This year’s show at the NEC has plenty of free, have-a-go features including an indoor children’s assault course and mobile climbing mountain. A towing and manoeuvring skills area offers expert tuition for those new to caravanning and motorhome holidays as well as those who want to brush up on their techniques. For pet lovers there is the much-loved dog agility arena.
Advance ticket prices are from £7.00 per person and children 15 and under enter free. That’s a very fair price for a good day out. See the image above. Look how happy and clean that young couple look. The days of tents that smell of wet dog, cooking for four on a single vintage, Soviet-made Primus stove, battling giant scary wasps (always a fear, especially when eating cream teas) and all the nastier aspects of nature can now be countered with the very latest tech and equipment. There’s no need to rough it. You might even say the experience with be intense!
Why not visit the show and have a think about holidaying in Great Britain: especially as nobody on continental Europe likes us any more.
Tickets are on sale now and can be ordered online: www.ccmshow.co.uk Geoff Maxted