Should locals embrace motorhomes to boost the economy?

Wednesday, 16, Sep 2020 12:55

By Emma Dodd

Owning a motorhome represents ultimate freedom. The ability to up sticks and head for the open road at short notice, knowing you have everything you need on board.

Well, that's the theory at least. We've all seen the overhead barriers that prevent motorhomes entering car parks and signs warning of no overnight camping.

Recently, we reported on an ongoing debate about motorhomes parking up at a car park in Scarborough and the view by many owners that they aren't doing any harm.

Now, a letter has been written to the Bournemouth Echo encouraging locals to be more tolerant of motorhomes and the potential cash injection they can bring to an area.

Elaine Blanchard of Christchurch argues that the local council and residents should take advantage of the growing popularity of holidaying in the UK and increased motorhome sales.

In her letter to the editor, she said: "The provision of overnight parking spaces would not only benefit the council with increased revenue from parking, but also the struggling businesses on our high streets."

She quite rightly points out that most modern motorhomes are so well-equipped that they do not require the toilet blocks and other facilities provided by caravan sites.

At this time of increased vigilance due to the pandemic, motorhome owners are even less likely to want to take advantage of such shared areas.

They do, however, still want to get away and being in close proximity to shops and eateries could lead to greater spend and therefore more money going into the local economy.

So, what are the rules around wild camping and should they be relaxed in light of the pandemic and the need to give local businesses all the help they can get?

Wild camping is illegal in most parts of England and Wales without permission from the landowner.

While there is a general understanding in some areas that it will be overlooked or not enforced, it's still not permitted.

In Scotland, on the other hand, right-to-roam laws mean that wild camping is allowed just about anywhere, making it a popular destination for motorhome owners.

The pandemic has put a different slant on the issue in Scotland, however, with many local councils asking visitors not to wild camp at present.

There are multiple reasons for this, but they are all related to the surge in popularity of caravan and motorhome holidays this year.

Small communities, such as those in the Highlands and Islands, are nervous about an influx of people who could potentially bring the virus with them.

Limiting visitors to the capacity of caravan sites makes social distancing easier and ensures local amenities are not overrun.

It's a two-edged sword, however, as these areas are as much in need of an economic boost from tourism as anywhere else in the UK.

The most important thing is to be respectful if you are going to pitch up outside of a recognised site. Follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and leave no trace when you go.

After all, is there any reason, if we're all respectful that we can't answer Ms Blanchard's plea and take "advantage of this rapidly growing form of tourism rather than driving people away"?

What are your thoughts on this debate? Get in touch to let us know.

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