The UK caravan industry and consumers had to accept more tough news yesterday following the latest guidance from the UK government on social distancing and avoiding non-essential travel to help prevent the COVID-19 virus spreading further (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-essential-travel-guidance?utm_source=38508dca-c5ae-4971-9f8b-3ab8619f94c8&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate&dm_i=WP7,6SS3B,5XJXGR,R7OKO,1)
Although it has not imposed a total ban on travel yet, its latest guidance says that essential travel does not include visits to second homes, campsites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. It says people should remain in their primary residence, so effectively stopping all caravan, motorhome and park home holidays.
As a result, both the Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club immediately announced the closure of their entire networks (https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/whats-on/caravan-club-news/novel-coronavirus-advice/ and https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/magazine/news/#news-club-closes-its-campsite-network).
The Clubs are not the only ones to take these significant steps. Apparently, the BH&HPA (British Holiday and Home Parks Association) is now advising parks to close, and many are already doing so. For example, Stowford Farm Meadows has just emailed me to say it’s closing until further notice: (https://stowford.co.uk/stowford-news/coronavirus-covid-19/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Stowford%20Closing&utm_content=Stowford%20Closing+CID_919111e16ed9fbc881ae6b4ae2904831&utm_source=CampaignMonitor&utm_term=Stowford%20Coronavirus%20Update). According to the news pages on Pitchup.com, Haven, Parkdean and Centre Parcs have also announced closures: https://www.pitchup.com/about/faqs/should-i-close-my-site/
These moves are completely understandable in the plight to stop COVID-19 spreading, but there’s not denying its unfortunate timing just as the main season is about to start ahead of the Easter holidays.
It will have a major financial impact on the caravan industry as a whole, and the many thousands of members who would be been looking forward to holidays in the next few weeks.
I’ve also read today that, according to the Hull Daily Mail, the Swift Group is closing its factory for five weeks (https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/swift-caravans-workers-laid-off-3967688). They won’t be the only ones as every business in every sector takes steps to minimise the risk to workers. For example, Autocar’s article (https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/coronavirus-car-industry) says Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley are shutting down production in their UK production facilities. It’s a similar story across the world, so the caravan industry will be no different.
Other people hit by campsite closures will be those full-timing in their caravans or motorhomes.
Tough times indeed. I just hope the UK population are doing enough to dampen the spread of the virus so that it’s all clear by the summer holiday season in July and August.
One thing’s for sure: every caravan, motorhome and park home owner will be desperate to get out and enjoy getting away from it all again as soon as it is possible. In the meantime, the media needs news stories and have pages to fill, so PR and communications become more important that ever. If you’re short-staffed, let me know if I can help.