Coronavirus: Campsites in Wales reopen with strict regulations

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campingImage source, Getty Images
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Holidaymakers are able to use sites with shared facilities from this weekend

Holidaymakers can once again carry on camping in Wales - but it won't be as you remember it.

From Saturday sites with shared facilities are allowed to open, with strict rules and regulations, having missed most of the high season.

Businesses said they had been inundated with inquiries but it would not make up for lost trade during lockdown.

There had also been the expense of deep cleaning, adding social distancing and reducing pitch numbers, some said.

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford warned holidaymakers they "must get used to some changes" to protect everyone from coronavirus.

"It's the responsibility of all of us to follow these new rules so we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe," he said.

The British Holiday and Home Parks Association said it expected almost all of the 1,322 sites in Wales that offer shared facilities to open.

And Philippa George, who chairs the Forum for South East Wales Tourism, estimated 97% would be welcoming visitors.

"It's been very hard, because all these businesses that have not been open have had no income for the season," she said.

There is less than two months of that left.

"It pretty well dries up in September, that is one of the quietest months in the season," said Ms George.

Image source, Philippa George
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Philippa George has reduced numbers at her Monknash campsite and followed Covid-19 social distancing and hygiene advice

The cost of adding measures to conform to coronavirus regulations was "quite expensive", she said.

Ms George worried sites would be driven out of business.

"That is three winters of no income for some people," she said.

"It has been extremely serious and I am hoping the Welsh Government will help.

"Across tourism we need to look at these businesses otherwise we are going to lose some."

Ms George, who runs Heritage Coast Camping, in Monknash, Vale of Glamorgan, said: "I'm only going to be effectively open for August and September, so income is reduced massively."

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Ms George said more people wanted to take holidays in the UK

Since the announcement sites would be allowed to reopen, her phone has been ringing off the hook.

"It has been ringing from half-seven to half-11 at night," Ms George said.

"People want a staycation.

"The people who ring, I've been discussing with them what we are doing to protect them and their safety.

"Without exception they have enjoyed that discussion and welcomed it."

Heritage Coast Camping is not opening until 31 July as it is not ready yet.

"With shared facilities it is difficult because you are talking about showers, toilets, washing up rooms," Ms George said.

To maintain social distancing this means no more than two people at a time can use them.

Sharon Evans runs Llandow Touring Caravan Park, which also accepts tents and is opening on Saturday.

She said: "We have been able to open a fortnight now with the caravans on site, where customers are using their own facilities, which has given us a bit of a trial run.

"We have screens in reception and hand sanitisers and social distancing and we have spent a great deal of time deep cleaning.

"The level of interest has been overwhelming."

Image source, Roger Thomas
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Roger Thomas, of the Three Golden Cups site, said demand was so pent up he expected people "whatever the weather"

It was "frustrating" sites were banned from opening in Wales until Saturday, Ms Evans said, adding: "Our customers have been going to England."

Some of her customers have been visiting for years, she said: "It's been very lonely without them, very quiet."

Roger Thomas, who runs the Three Golden Cups campsite a few miles away in Southerndown, said trade was normally weather dependent.

"If the weather is dreadful people tend not to come," he said.

"But this year the demand is so pent up I expect they will come whatever."

The Camping and Caravanning Club said in Wales sites at Bala, Rhandirmwyn, Cardigan Bay and Wyeside were open.

But only Wyeside will be open with shared facilities from Saturday.

"It's great for campsites across Wales to be able to open their shared facilities, such as toilet blocks, as this will mean tent-campers and campervanners can now pitch up alongside caravans and motorhomes, which have self-contained washrooms," a spokesman said.

British Holiday and Home Parks Association boss Ros Pritchard said: "We are hoping to see the return of our tent campers on Saturday."