Page last updated at 05:56 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 06:56 UK

Camping defies the credit crunch

Kevin Leonard
BBC news website

Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park
Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park is having to turn away campers

The camping industry in Wales appears to be bucking the trend and flourishing during the credit crunch.

Welsh camping sites report healthy summer bookings while sales of camping equipment are strong.

Compared to a family holiday abroad costing thousands, a cheap break under canvas can be an attractive alternative.

Dave Beynon, of Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park on the Gower, said he was having to turn away 100 customers a day.

"Camping can buck the trend because it's inexpensive," he said.

"You can come here with a family and it would cost 105 for a week.

"The last time I went to London, it cost me that for a room for one night."

Mark Palmer, site manager of Gilestone Farm caravan and camping park at Talybont-on-Usk near Brecon, said he had seen a huge increase recently in the number of campers.

It's not just basic canvas under a tree any more, it's quite sophisticated
Malcolm Bonas, Gwent Camping and Leisure

"We've got 60 per cent more campers this year and we've added more room for them," he said.

"We've put it down to the credit crunch, that's all it is."

Fiona Davies, manager of Llwyn Celyn Bach camping site in Llanberis, said families appeared to be booking longer breaks.

"The last three or four years we've been running it, it's been one or two or three nights, but this last few weeks we've been taking families for a week," she said.

But the school holidays got off to a slow start for Viv James, director of Trefalun Park in Tenby, although the site is fully booked up for the rest of the summer.

"I think it's a knock-on effect of the poor weather last year, and the cost of fuel is certainly deterring some people," he said.

'Yurts'

Julian Burrell, chairman of the Wales Tourism Alliance, claimed a number of factors were playing a part in making camping attractive.

He said short breaks were more popular and there was now a market for environmentally-friendly holidays.

"That includes the top end of the camping market like yurts, which are coming into their own," he said.

Sales of camping equipment are also proving resistant to the current financial squeeze.

Blacks Leisure has just reported healthy July sales and said customers were ditching foreign holidays for camping trips.

And Tesco Direct said its sales of camping equipment had increased by 38% since July last year.

'Inflatable'

Outdoor clothing and equipment company Gelert, based in Porthmadog, said sales of tents had increased.

"We've seen significant growth this year and, as well as the credit crunch, it's also a lot to do with health trends," said a spokeswoman.

She said there was now more of an emphasis on keeping active and maintaining a work-life balance, and camping was benefiting from this.

Malcolm Bonas, sales manager of Gwent Camping and Leisure in Newport, said sales of accessories were holding up well, including some of the more unusual items.

"It's not just basic canvas under a tree any more, it's quite sophisticated," he said.

"You can get inflatable three-piece suites and we sold out of them last year.

"We've had a couple in this year and they've sold too."




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