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South West expects crowds as holidaymakers carry on camping trend

PUBLISHED: 15:23 17 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:22 20 February 2013

South West expects crowds as holidaymakers carry on camping trend

South West expects crowds as holidaymakers carry on camping trend

The South West tourist industry is set for a bumper year as holidaymakers shelve plans to travel overseas and head for resorts closer to home.

The South West tourist industry is set for a bumper year as holidaymakers shelve plans to travel overseas and head for resorts closer to home.



Belt-tightening Brits will be diverting to all points West as economic pressures reshape UK holiday trends, according to Neil Dimes, partner in charge of the South West office of PKF Accountants & business advisers.



PKF, which produces monthly bulletins on hotel occupancy as well as a definitive annual guide to the UK hotel industry, reports that hoteliers, camp site owners, pubs, bars and restaurants right across the region are expecting a good year as people are priced out of overseas travel.



He said: While its a little premature to say all foreign holidays are becoming luxury items, its certainly recognised as being far more expensive than it was to travel abroad. It has been reported that the average foreign holiday this Easter cost around 2,000 and that is simply beyond the means of many people these days.



According to the Office of National Statistics the number of Britons taking holidays abroad has declined by more than a quarter over the past two years.



Neil added: There are a number of factors persuading people to rethink their holidays and with the Met office predicting the hottest summer since 1976 this will encourage even more people to head West.



Four bank holidays in quick succession, the Royal Wedding and the forthcoming London Olympics have also helped drive the rush of bookings.



Neil said: There are reports that camping holiday bookings are already up 25 per cent on last year, with caravan sites and retailers including Halfords and John Lewis reporting a sharp rise in sales of camping equipment.



It seems sites in Britain are encouraging the trend by going upmarket with spacious tents, new shower and toilet blocks and electricity hook-up points catering for a whole new generation of campers.



PKFs analysis pinpointed the unfavourable euro exchange rate and the increased costs of foreign travel as key factors in peoples decision making.



Neil said: With pay packets shrinking and a new tax regime, people are holding back on big ticket items such as holidays abroad. The threat of strikes coupled with expected increase in fuel supplements is putting many people off.



On the other hand, better accommodation, restaurants and service at home, coupled with the promise of a really cracking summer, is encouraging people to rethink their holiday experience.



According to Hotel Britain 2011, PKFs definitive guide to the performance and prospects of the UK hotel industry, occupancy in the South West region as a whole and Bristol and Bath in particular was up in 2010 and outperforming other areas.



Meanwhile price comparison site figures for March showed flight bookings were down significantly with Greece, Turkey, France and Spain witnessing the biggest drops in bookings of between 28 and 36 per cent.



Neil went on: Many people booked days off around the unusually high number of bank holidays, which meant longer breaks without using up valuable holiday entitlement.



The Caravanning and Camping Club says a total of 5.43 million camping trips were made last year, up 20% on the year before. The predicted hot summer, said by the Met Office to be the sunniest since 1976, is expected to send the figure much higher, possibly to over 6m.



Neil concluded: Our research has revealed a good deal of optimism in the regional leisure industry, and with so many factors coming together its likely 2011 will be a summer to remember for all our hotels, caravan parks and resorts.


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