More than 8,000 caravan and camping sites across the UK enjoyed the warm summer, with the two largest clubs reporting bookings up on last year and over one million leisure vehicles currently owned in the UK according to the NCC*, the event arm of which runs the UK’s largest leisure vehicle event, the Motorhome and Caravan Show 2018 in October.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club, with nearly a million members and 2,700 locations, saw a 12% uplift in 2018 summer bookings over 2017. There was also a 17% year-on-year increase over the May bank holiday across its sites network and a 5% growth in August bank holiday bookings. The August bank holiday produced record bookings for the club.

The Camping and Caravanning Club, which is celebrating record membership with approximately 720,000 members, started the summer season with a particularly strong 22% increase in pitch night sales over 2017 for the Early May Bank Holiday across its 106 UK Club Sites.

The Club, which offers members more than 1,400 Certificated Sites and operates a joint venture with the Forestry Commission to run 15 Camping in the Forest sites, has also recorded a significant 9% increase in three-night breaks. Ready Camp, the Club’s safari-style glamping network that features on 45 campsites nationwide, has seen a record number of bookings this year,

Both clubs’ bookings reflect a trend for multiple, short vacations amongst leisure vehicle owners and campers. Caravan and Motorhome Club members reported travelling 100 miles or less for three-night stays but are more likely to travel further for stays of four nights or more. Although few members reported travelling more than 400 miles to a UK site, Britons are increasingly making trips overseas too: by spring 2014 20% of Caravan and Motorhome Club members had ventured abroad, while by autumn 2017 this figure had risen to 23%.

There has also been an increase in rental schemes, giving potential leisure vehicle owners the opportunity to ‘try before you buy’. SwiftGo, the new rental arm of the UK’s largest leisure vehicle manufacturer Swift, has opened its first motorhome hire point near Manchester with further outlets planned across the UK. Also the UK distributor for iconic Airstream trailers, Swift has placed a number of Airstream Colorado models on Caravan and Motorhome Club sites, available to hire. Try Before You Buy schemes are available for both SwiftGo and Airstream with rental costs deductible against a subsequent purchase of a new Swift motorhome or Airstream.

“We know that potential owners want to test the experience when considering a leisure vehicle purchase,” said Nick Page, Swift Group Commercial Director. “There is such a broad range of leisure vehicle ownership options, from tourers, through to compact campervans and palatial motorhomes as well as caravan holiday home; everybody is individual so it’s important to find out what works for you. We see people who may have started off camping now looking to purchase a leisure vehicle; they still want the freedom to head off on multiple short trips away as well as longer holidays but want a bit more comfort and facilities.”

The industry website, www.FreedomToGo.co.uk also helps newcomers navigate through leisure vehicle ownership, rental and the vast range of holiday and activity options on offer.

More than 700 tourers, motorhomes, campervans, holiday homes and trailer tents will be on show at the UK’s largest leisure vehicle event, the Motorhome and Caravan Show 2018 at Birmingham’s NEC from 16 to 21 October. Showing all the new-for-2019 products and thousands of accessories, celebrities take to the LIVE Theatre stage to launch new products, including architect and TV presenter George Clarke who opens the show on Tuesday 16 October, and television’s Dr Hilary Jones extolling the mental and physical health benefits of leisure vehicle holidays.

Exhibitors offer information and advice on holiday destinations and tours throughout the UK, Europe and farther afield. Visitors can enjoy live cooking demonstrations, relax in the new Woodland Trust Wellbeing Rest Area, and enjoy free attractions such as Motorhome Manoeuvring, Towing Tuition and the ever-popular Campervan Test Drive. A weekend crèche is available and a BSL interpreter will join the LIVE Theatre stage on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors can also pitch their caravans and motorhomes on-site at the NEC by pre-booking their places online.

Advance tickets for the Motorhome and Caravan Show are now on sale from just £8.50*, with free entry for children aged 15 and under, and parking included in the ticket price. www.mcshow.co.uk or call 0844 873 7333.

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