The UK’s tourist industry risks missing out on vital income unless councils open up more space for campervans, campaigners have warned.
The Campaign for Real Aires (CAMpRA) is calling for the allocation of more ‘aires’ – overnight stopping areas for owners of self-contained campervans.
Over the summer holidays, thousands of Britons travelled around the UK in leisure vehicles, highlighting what CAMpRA describes as a critical of the lack of facilities for campervan and motorhome owners.
The organisation fears that the recent boom in staycations, could soon be reversed with more than 13,500 aires in Europe attracting Van Lifers to better facilities and social acceptance.
Speaking to The Express CAMpRA spokesperson, Carolyn Mitchell said: “It would be nice to think that we could, at some point in the next five to 10 years, be somewhere close to France.
“I mean I know we’re a lot smaller, I know we don’t have the land, I know we are more heavily populated.
“This is why we keep trying to say to people, we’re not after free places, we just want safe places that we can park up overnight.
“We’re trying and we are getting there. We are in a very much stronger position than we were last year.”
The Campaign for Real Aires The Campaign for Real Aires (CAMpRA) encourages spending in the local economy through the provision of motorhome and campervan aires. It is campaigning for safe, overnight parking spaces for campervans and motorhomes, which it says will boost localised spending and drive the recovery of the British economy. Aires are frequently seen across Europe and act as short overnight stops, generally between 24 and 48 hours. Unlike campsites, aires do not allow visitors to set up awnings, tables and chairs and they are not bookable in advance. CAMpRA has been involved in the setting up of around 115 aires across the UK in the last year, with a further 50 more expected to be opened in the year ahead.
There are almost 400,000 motorcaravans registered with the DVLA, together with an unspecified number of “vans with windows”.
Motorhome tourism is believed to be worth over £1billion to the UK economy.
Whilst the motorhome and caravanning industry is a massive part of the UK, there are estimated to be over two million motorcaravans in Europe.
Carolyn fears they will be put off from visiting the UK because of a lack of facilities and the attitudes of councils and landowners who don’t appreciate the value of the tourism.
She added: “It is unfortunate, but the minute European borders are open again, I suspect a very large number of motorhome owners will disappear back to Europe.
“We are just made so welcome.
“Most are free, some of them charge. The facilities for toilets and things are usually free, but you will pay to fill with fresh water.
“I think almost everyone will disappear back to Europe again.”
Scotland has seen a considerable increase in the number of aires, many with fresh water and disposal facilities for grey water from washing up and showering.
Carolyn added: “We accept that here in the UK it will be a long time before we catch up with the rest of Europe, and the vast majority of us are happy to pay our way and contribute to the local economies of places where we are welcome.”
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