Stephens Scown is proud to have recently become a full member of the NCC. We spoke to them about some of the latest holiday and park home industry issues they have been  involved with in recent month. This includes fire saftey since the Grenfell tragedy, the rise of glamping, the latest results from the Freedom to Go campaign, objections to a possible Welsh tourism tax, and news of a new economic impact study for the UK holiday park tourism sector.

Fire Safety 

The Grenfell tragedy led to many questions being posed by holiday and park home owners and external bodies about fire safety matters in the sector.  It has served as a catalyst for all parties to review fire safety.  The NCC and BH&HPA recently agreed a joint fire safety management approach for caravan holiday homes (CHH) and residential park homes (RPH), and the parks where they are sited.

There are of course fundamental differences between the fire safety management of high-rise tower blocks and single-storey accomodation on holiday and residential parks.  The design philosophy that has been adopted and proven to protect life in CHHs and RPHs follows three steps:

  • Fire detection and alert
  • Evacuation
  • Preventing fire spreading

In terms of next steps for the holiday and park home industry, given that CHHs and RPHs  are of timber frame construction, the most effective way to mitigate fire risk is not through using ever more fire-resistant materials – rather, the approach is to better protect occupants. However, despite the fire safety measures intrinsic to the design of CHHs and RPHs and the parks where they are sited, the tragedy at the Grenfell Tower nonetheless highlights that there is always more to be done.

NB: To obtain a copy of the full statement please contact Alicia.d@thencc.org.uk

Tourism in Wales

The Welsh Government recently announced it is going to develop new tax ideas as part of its 2018/2019 draft Budget. One of four ‘ideas’ under consideration is a proposed tourism tax, an initiative which has been introduced in other parts of the world, including Europe. The proposal has already been the subject of some active debate in the Welsh Assembly.

Whilst there is no opposition to fair taxation, there is great concern among the tourism sector in Wales about the overwhelming unfairness of such a proposal, which would impose great harm on the hospitality and tourism sectors if introduced.

The NCC attended a Cross Party Tourism Group meeting in Cardiff on 24 October, where Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Ken Skates AM, listened to industry views and concerns. He stressed this was one of four proposals the Welsh Assembly would consider. He confirmed a decision on which of the four tax proposals would go forward to Westminster for consideration would be made early in the new year (January). A clear public statement will follow afterwards.  A further meeting between the Welsh Tourism Alliance and the Welsh Government to debate the issue is scheduled before the end of the year, which the NCC will attend.

The Great Britain Tourism Survey released on 5 October, found there were 4.24 million overnight trips to Wales from GB between January and June 2017, an increase of 6.3% on the same period in 2016. The amount of spend during this period has also increased to £724 million pounds, an increase of 9.5% compared to 2016.

This is of course an opportunity to raise specific concerns with individual Assembly Members ahead of the formal consultation, pointing out the critical importance of the
industry to the wider prosperity of the region.

The NCC will be making a robust response to the Welsh Government in respect of the proposal.

Glamping 

There has been much talk about the growth of  alternative accommodation, so called ‘glamping units’ (camping pods, forest retreats, yurts, teepees, safari tents etc) on holiday parks.

In the right locations they are certainly working well – whether it be traditional coastal areas, or inland holiday parks popular with walkers and for outdoor activities. NCC holiday park members have commented upon the valuable extra revenue derived from these alternative types of holiday accommodation. One in the Lake District advised they were paying for themselves within two years and the profit was used to finance improvements to the existing holiday park.

With the rising popularity, the diversity of products has grown. Traditional caravan holiday home manufacturers such as Willerby and Swift are moving into the market  and building innovative types of units for customers. These ‘alternative’ units are becoming more luxurious, often containing washing and kitchen facilities, and perhaps even hot tubs with decking.

It is vital holiday park operators check their planning permissions and Site Licence, or seek professional advice, before considering siting alternative types of  accommodation. The issue of separation distances between units, and making sure relevant risk assessments have been carried out should not be overlooked.

Freedom To Go on TV

It has been many years since national TV advertising was last used to promote leisure vehicles in a generic promotional campaign. But this spring, NCC, The Caravan &  Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club, agreed a TV campaign trial as part of the Freedom to Go awareness building campaign  (www.freedomtogo.co.uk). The campaign promotes the lifestyle benefits of all types of caravan holidays and the many parks that holidaymakers can choose throughout
the UK.

TV media was booked to air nationally for four weeks from mid- May on ITV Breakfast, targeting professional adults and their families.

The advertisement featured an aspirational product range and showcased families enjoying holidays and short breaks, using a variety of products – including caravan  holiday homes.

During the period it aired, website visits increased 124% yearon- year. There was a remarkable increase in database sign-ups compared to last year (+198%). But the area that saw biggest growth was ‘find a pitch’ through the Freedom to Go website.

Searches increased by an incredible 2,744%, resulting in 18,643 external links to holiday parks, campsites and glamping options. If you haven’t seen the advert it is available via Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/156254791

Economic Impact Study

The NCC, alongside the BH&HPA, The Caravan and Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club, are set to commission a new UK-wide Economic Impact Assessment of the Holiday Park Industry. The objective is to provide an independent, evidence-based, understanding of the direct and indirect economic impact/contribution (including employment) of the holiday park industry in the UK. It will cover all forms of accommodation catered for on holiday parks. A tender exercise is currently underway and the results of this will be made known soon. For more information email frank.f@thencc.org.uk.

For further information on holiday and park home industry issues, please contact 01392 210700 or email parks@stephens-scown.co.uk.

This article first appeared in our holiday and residential park newsletter, read  Explorer