Campaign Calls For Tourism VAT Cuts

VAT Cuts

Findings by the Cut Tourism VAT campaign reveals that the UK’s tourism industry would be significantly better off if VAT was reduced from 20 per cent to five per cent. Pic: VisitBritain.

Campaign Calls For Tourism VAT Cuts

Pressure is mounting on the government to cut VAT on UK tourism, after thousands of businesses and politicians signalled their support for a nationwide campaign.

The Cut Tourism VAT campaign believes the industry would be £4bn a year better off, and lead to the creation of up to 120,000 new jobs, if Britain fell into line with Europe and reduced the levy from 20 per cent to five per cent.

A cut in VAT would also increase the appeal to visitors from overseas already struggling with a strong pound, campaigners claim, helping the British tourist industry to compete with low-taxed European and American attractions.

Graham Wason, chairman of the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign, said: “This new research is the economic proof the Treasury has asked for to prove what every other country in Europe knows – that cutting VAT on holidays is profitable for governments.

“Many of our coastal towns are ignored but cutting VAT would help them thrive. More than 60 cross-party MPs have signed our parliamentary motion and more than 1,000 companies and groups are backing the campaign.”

Campaign supporter Dermot King, managing director of Bourne Leisure commented: “As the pound continues to strengthen against the Euro, the gap in price competitiveness between the UK and her European partners widens. Outside of the London bubble, UK tourism continues to try to compete with not just one but increasingly two arms tied behind its back.”

Tourism is one of the UK’s largest industries – employing over 3.1 million people and generating £127bn for GDP in 2013 – and campaigners say a cut in VAT would give a vital boost to regional businesses and economies reliant on the industry.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association said: “As the driving force behind our recovery, it’s vital we help smaller firms grow. No one denies the cut would dent tax revenues initially but only briefly, so this is a chance for politicians to prove they are really in it for the long by making an investment in an industry which is the UK’s biggest employer of young people.”

New Forest Ranger Leads Campsite Activities

Campsite Activities Ranger

Campers in the New Forest are being given environmental information and advice from a new park ranger.

New Forest Ranger Leads Campsite Activities

A new seasonal ranger is helping campers have fun in the New Forest while helping them protect the National Park’s animals and landscapes.

Chris Marshall will lead bug hunts, forest games and craft activities exclusively for families at four Camping in the Forest campsites throughout the summer.

Campers at Roundhill, Ashurst, Holmsley and Hollands Wood are being treated to a wild time of adventure and discovery, with walks from the campsites to learn more about the flora and fauna, how the New Forest got its name and why ponies have played such an important role in shaping the landscape.

The new role is being supported as a joint partnership between the New Forest National Park Authority, Camping in the Forest and the Forestry Commission.

Tomorrow’s World

tomorrows world

The holiday park swimming pool is one of the main features that keeps the visitors coming back and a potential ticking time bomb for operators legally obligated to show ‘duty of care’.

Tomorrow's World

Automatic control will dramatically reduce the risk of human error in the management of holiday park swimming pools advises Christina Connor…

Swimming pools are the marmite of the holiday park industry.

A liquid paradox – the swimming pool will be one of the main features that keep the visitors coming back.

On the other hand, if poorly maintained, that same swimming pool presents a ticking time bomb of problems for visitors, staff but fundamentally for the holiday park operator who is legally obligated to show ‘duty of care’.

“Ten years ago, many holiday parks operated on a wish and a prayer when it came to water treatment,” comments Tim Bareham of leading commercial swimming pool specialist, Cresta Leisure.

“In the majority of cases, water chemicals were dosed manually and the water balance tested with the most basic comparator, invariably intended for residential use.”

BALANCING ACT

Juggling swimmer numbers – or ‘bather load’ as it is known in the trade – presents a perpetual balancing act.

“It was very common to receive a visit or a call from a swimming pool or leisure manager at lunch time to collect vast quantities of chlorine reducer after he had tipped 40 litres of chlorine into the pool to remove the pea soup which had materialised during very heavy bather loads that morning,” recalls Tim.

“What a disaster! High chemical costs, customer complaints, bleached swimming costumes and degradation of the internal finishes of the pool.”

Forward thinking park operators with swimming pools should have automated not only the chemical dosing, but PAC (polyaluminium chloride) for continuous coagulation and Ultra Violet disinfection units to remove combined chorines and help prevent cryptosporidium.

“A holiday park with the smallest of pools will still be classified as a commercial pool,” advises Jimmy Lamb of the Pollet Pool Group, exclusive UK distributors of Bayrol automatic dosing equipment.

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Somerset Holiday Park Splashes Out

Somerset Holiday park

Brean Leisure Park in Somerset has invested in a new splash play area, with help from design specialists Hippo Leisure.

Brean Leisure Park in Somerset has introduced a new water play area to keep its younger guests entertained within the indoor pool hall.

The multi-level play platform was designed and installed by waterplay specialists Hippo Leisure, and incorporates high and low level features to cater for all ages and ability groups. Splash battle squirting cannons, tipping buckets, water wheels and spray rails are just some of the elements that have been included, to ensure maximum enjoyment for users.

Teresa Metherell of Hippo Leisure comments: “In our experience, holiday parks that invest in family friendly water play equipment that is designed to appeal to their customer base will not only increase their success in attracting new visitors but also maintain repeat custom.”

Hippo Leisure
Tel. 01752 771740
www.hippoleisure.com

Pick Of Crop On Dorset Organic Farm

Dorset farm

East Fleet Farm Touring Park, where guests awake each morning to spectacular views of Chesil Beach, has joined a small elite of the UK’s most exclusive holiday parks.

Pick Of Crop On Dorset Organic Farm

East Fleet Farm Touring Park, near Weymouth in Dorset, is the newest member of the Best of British group which pitches itself at couples and families seeking a truly privileged holiday park experience.

Parks belonging to the consortium are mainly family-owned businesses which have met the group’s membership criteria of providing first-class quality standards and hospitality.

Based at the heart of a 200-acre organic farm and bordered by the picturesque East Fleet Lagoon, a host of awards and delighted customer comments pay tribute to its credentials.

Managed by Richard Stamper and his wife Ali, whose parents have owned the farm since 1986, the park has a special appeal to lovers of natural beauty and wildlife. It provides around 400 pitches for the owners of touring caravans, motorhomes and tents – and, as its guests appreciate, a welcome absence of noisy distractions.

Holiday Snaps: Rod Tucker

Holiday Snaps: Rod Tucker

Rod Tucker is the managing director of Hoburne Ltd and Burry and Knight Ltd, which run seven holiday parks and three golf courses. Rod was previously CEO at Haulfryn Group and was chairman of the National Caravan Council from 2010 to 2012.

How do you see the UK Holiday industry at the moment?

Both the caravan sales and rental markets are buoyant for quality holiday parks. People are booking more breaks last minute and there is a growing trend of families taking more short breaks rather than one long holiday. It’s the same picture with holiday home sales; people are looking to get away at weekends and for shorter mid-week breaks.

What are the main challenges facing the industry?

It comes down to legislation; the VAT on tourism being so much higher in the UK than the rest of Europe penalises British holidaymakers and more red tape doesn’t help any business. Despite assurances from the Government about cutting red tape, it’s not happening.

How have customer expectations changed during your time in the holiday business?

I have been in this industry for 40 years and naturally in that time I have seen huge changes. People want better facilities in the way of swimming pools and gyms and they demand more quality accommodation. Top of the range accommodation at Hoburne gets fully booked very quickly, but even standard caravans have double glazing and central heating now. It’s a far cry from when I started.

If you had to identify one element, what is the most crucial aspect of your business?

Customer service, without a doubt. Hoburne is a family-owned and run business, not venture capitalist-backed, and Holiday Snaps Rod Tucker is the managing director of Hoburne Ltd and Burry and Knight Ltd, which run seven holiday parks and three golf courses. Rod was previously CEO at Haulfryn Group and was chairman of the National Caravan Council from 2010 to 2012. Rod Tucker, Hoburne Holiday Parks has a very loyal customer base. Customer service is at the heart of all we do and our reputation for quality, fairness and value is something we work hard to protect.

What has been your most interesting experience in the industry?

I had a very interesting couple of years as chairman of the National Caravan Council. I got to meet some really interesting people and work with great companies, like Hoburne. I also enjoy upgrading holiday parks, making improvements and introducing better facilities.

What does a typical day in the office for you entail?

There is no such thing. I may be in the office having meetings or I may be out visiting the parks, or our golf courses or housing developments; meeting managers and looking at ways to move the business forward. I am not one for sitting in the office; I like to be out and about.

What is the best piece of business advice you've been given?

Two things; firstly to be honest and frank with everyone. Secondly, to ensure the presentation of the parks is right because you don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression.

Where do you go on holiday?

Outside of this country, I like Greece and Italy, but I love travelling generally, abroad and in the UK. Children are so happy with swimming pools, playgrounds, entertainment and beaches or wide open spaces to play in.

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Pampered Campers

Pampered Campers

Glamping-2

The camping pods at Woodovis Park in Devon have had a positive impact on the business.

The glamping phenomenon, or boutique camping as it is also becoming known, has inspired a new generation of holidaymakers looking to combine a grass roots camping experience with a few home comforts thrown in for good measure.

Made popular by celebrity fans and fuelled by the UK's staycationers, an increasing number of switched on park owners are cashing in on the glamping concept; offering luxury camping accommodation options alongside their existing caravans and lodges.

For those parks that have taken the glamping plunge, business is booming. The Caravan and Camping Club has seen a 42% increase in the number of bookings for its glamping accommodation in the last five years and pitch night bookings are up by nearly 5% compared to this time last year.

Glamping-3

The Caravan & Camping Club has reported a significant increase in glamping bookings in the last five years.

Rob Ganley, communications manager at The Camping and Caravanning Club comments: “The Club has enjoyed strong site occupancy this year so far, and our booking stats confirm that camping and caravanning continues to be one of the nation’s favourite pastimes.

“With many camping and caravanning brands investing in new technology plus the option of fixed on-site glamping accommodation, camping and caravanning can be a luxurious experience making it a more attractive and accessible holiday option to the wider travel market.”

Kate Paulwell of camping accommodation website Unique Sleeps agrees: "For businesses that are unsure whether to venture into the glamping market, it is not too late to jump on the bandwagon. Glamping is as popular as ever, and its future looks secure and set to continue."

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Holiday Bookings Enjoy Seasonal Boost

Holiday Bookings Enjoy Seasonal Boost

High-temps

High July temperatures have boosted domestic holiday figures, across the UK, with operators reporting strong demand and an increase in last-minute bookings.

Sustained hot weather provided a boost for the country’s holiday businesses, as holidaymakers lapped up the good weather with a seemingly unquenchable thirst for last minute domestic breaks.

Hoseasons reported a sharp rise in bookings boosted by the beautiful weather, recording an 11 per cent increase in bookings for the school summer holidays compared to last year’s figures, with a reported rise also in last minute holidays as people decided to make the most of the sunshine.

“These figures clearly demonstrate the continued appeal of the domestic holiday among UK consumers,” said Simon Altham, managing director of Hoseasons. “The convenience and ease of just being able to pack up the car and go and grab a late deal seems to be an ever more attractive trend amongst Brits.”

WARM SUNSHINE

Temperatures for July and August were above average across the UK, reaching a scorching 32.3 °C in Kent in mid-July.

Simon continues: “The warm sunshine obviously helps when it comes to the ‘book and go’ culture, but the weather was good last year so it’s not the only factor. We firmly believe that continued innovation in the quality and range of accommodation styles available is also playing its part alongside the growing investment in major UK tourist attractions which combined are making the UK a convenient and hassle-free choice for many Brits this year.”

Beach-jump

Record numbers of Brits took to the beach this summer, with Cornwall, Blackpool and Brighton proving to be popular hotspots. Pic: VisitBritain

Bookings across Butlins resorts have also been up this season, and the company has been operating at nearly 100 per cent occupancy through the summer period. Butlins spokesperson James Silverstone commented: “We always see an increase in demand during good weather and this year has been no different. However, all our resorts are geared up for all seasons, so even if it does rain we can still accommodate our guests without spoiling any fun!”

As record numbers of British holidaymakers chose to stay at home for their summer break this year, coastal locations such as Cornwall, Blackpool and Brighton were especially popular, as well as city breaks in London, Edinburgh and York.

Beverley Holidays and Whitehill Country Park, two sister holiday parks in Paignton saw a rush in bookings as visitors flocked to the English Riviera to revel in the heat wave. Numbers were up at both parks by more than 10 per cent compared to the previous year, and the parks were also benefitting from the news that the area is fast becoming the top seaside destination in the UK.

Claire Jeavons, head of marketing for Beverley Holidays and Whitehill Park, is thrilled with how the businesses are performing: “How customers choose and book their holidays has changed dramatically over the years. We have invested heavily in digital marketing with online channels such as social media campaigns and e-blasts, and this has really paid off.”

Claire added: “The recent hot weather looks set to stay and our outdoor and indoor pools are proving very popular among those looking to bask in the Great British sunshine, with plenty more visitors expected.”

Further good news for the industry is that tourism spend is up by 6 per cent on last year, according to the latest research by VisitEngland.