THE Scottish Government recognises that motorhome tourism is key to a successful recovery of the nation’s £12 billion tourism industry.
The relatively self-contained nature of a campervan or motorhome enables people to enjoy a touring holiday whilst remaining as socially distanced as possible.
Scotland’s Tourism Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP met with Catherine Bunn, chair of CAMPA (Campervan and Motorhome Professional Association) to discuss some of the challenges facing the industry and what can be done to help manage the growth of the sector in a sustainable way.
Catherine explained to Mr. Ewing that one of the key challenges faced by the industry is that infrastructure and facilities in popular tourist areas have not kept pace with the rapid growth in popularity of motorhome and campervan tourism.
There are over 255,000 motorhomes registered in the UK, which is increasing by almost 15,000 per year.
Traditionally, caravan holidays were based at a single campsite but modern campervan users climb hills, ride bikes, paddle canoes and go birding.
They tend to make last minute plans and only require a safe place to park and sleep before moving on the next day. Many campervan tourers can last at least 3 days without requiring service point facilities so it is not essential to offer waste disposal at every parking location, especially in rural areas.
This change in pattern is starting to be recognised and many local communities have sought to provide safe parking areas with basic facilities, in order to encourage campervanners to stay overnight and spend money in their restaurants, shops and visitor attractions.
Government funding for these local initiatives has been available through schemes such as the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF). To enable visitors to spend money, parking areas need to be located within walking distance of the shops and restaurants.
CaMPA has been working closely with many organisations to highlight the positive aspects of campervans and to help find solutions to challenges.
Catherine said; “The vast majority of campervanners are responsible individuals who love the countryside and the rural communities they are visiting. They are keen to demonstrate that they do contribute to the economy by spending money directly with local businesses, such as visitor attractions, cafes and restaurants. Modern campervanners tend to seek out new experiences and want to create lifelong memories of adventure – this is something that Scottish tourism should embrace”.
Mr Ewing said “I recognise the increasing popularity of motorhomes and campervans for touring Scotland, especially in our rural areas. The meeting with CaMPA was really productive, we discussed some of the many opportunities and challenges facing the industry and how we can work together to help manage growth in a sustainable manner.”
In 2020, approximately 81% of motorhome owners are over 55 years old and 55% are retired. The retiree market on average, spend 50% more on holidays than most working people and the ‘Grey Pound’ is being seen as a significant source of income for UK businesses.