Sponsored: How landowners can make the most of the staycation surge

CLA member Dan Yates of Pitchup.com, Europe’s largest outdoor accommodation provider, shares how the staycation boom and the extended permitted development rights are providing landowners with an unprecedented diversification opportunity

The rise in domestic travel

Last year the majority of travellers opted to stay close to home rather than holidaying abroad. In fact, according to Google, searches for 'staycations' are up 100% over the last year and 'glamping near me' searches were 117% higher at their peak in 2020 compared to 2019. Similarly, 95% of our bookings over the last 12 months were for people booking destinations in their own country. With international travel bans still in place, we expect this surge in domestic bookings to continue well into 2021 and beyond.

Bookings are skyrocketing at the moment - last week we took over 4,000 bookings in 24 hours, which is unprecedented for this time of year and bookings over the last two weeks are up 260% on last year, showing no sign of slowing.

What does this mean for landowners?

With 512 million holiday nights spent abroad in 2019, and international travel off the cards for many this year, demand could greatly exceed supply when it comes to holiday accomodation in the UK.

This unprecedented demand has coincided with new regulations enabling land-based businesses in England to operate a campsite without planning permission for 56 days until at least 31 December 2021. Currently, the extension only applies in England, but the UK’s devolved administrations are also expected to follow suit shortly, announcing that they are taking a relaxed approach to the rule where it is helpful for businesses.

There has never been a better time for farmers and landowners to diversify by setting up a temporary campsite, earning additional income for their business and providing space for hundreds of holidaymakers that might otherwise have missed out on a summer break.

How much can I earn from a pop-up campsite?

Establishing a pop-up campsite has little impact on the day-to-day operations of a land-based business and could create significant extra income:

  • Average annual farm gate takings topped £13,000 last year with some businesses making more than £50,000 in their first season
  • A campsite on castle grounds made nearly £62,000 of sales last year
  • A new bell tent site in Dorset had £80,000 worth of arrivals last summer
  • A North Yorkshire 56-day site made nearly £50,000 in bookings last year
  • A Cumbrian country estate has already taken over £24,000 of bookings this year

How easy is it to set up a temporary site on spare land?

Temporary campsites can be a quick and easy way to diversify. Last year, we saw more than 200 new temporary sites open up to take advantage of the extension to the permitted development rules. One such business was Hundred Acre Farm near Compton in West Sussex.

Owners James and Caitlin finish around 650 bull calves each year on 300 acres of grassland, and manage 1,000 acres of wheat, spring and winter barley, oats and maize. The couple decided to launch a pop-up campsite last year when holding a socially distanced barbecue in a field on their farm, which has sweeping views across the South Downs.

We caught up with them last month to see how they found the experience and Cailtin said: “It was nice having people around the farm. A lot of them took a great interest in the working farm, asking us about what we did and how, and learning more about it, which was great to see.”

James added that managing the farm around the campsite had not been a problem, even during harvest. On one day, they had to combine a field next to the site, but simply cordoned off the corner of the site closest to the field to ensure no one camped there: “Everyone seemed to respect we are a working farm so didn’t go beyond the cordon, which meant the campsite didn’t have any real impact on our day-to-day farming life”.

How can I find out more?

Interested landowners can find out more at the interactive webinarTap Into the Staycation Trend and Make the Most of the 56-day Camping Opportunity” on Tuesday, 30 March 2021 12-1pm.

Experts from Pitchup.com as well as CLA’s South West Rural Surveyor Will Langer will discuss how landowners can take advantage of the surge in staycation bookings and the new permitted development rules as well as how to set up a campsite, how it impacts the basic payment scheme and cross-selling opportunities. There will also be an opportunity for a Q&A.