Britain’s beauty spots are being inundated with campervans and campsites filled to bursting – provoking angry locals to call for action to stop the ‘tidal wave’ of holidaymakers destroying their areas.
Fed-up residents in Scotland have called for a ‘congestion charge’ on campervans as beauty spots across the UK experience a camping boom amid surging bookings as tourists shun foreign holidays due to quarantine fears.
The rise in staycations has led to fears over rural roads being overwhelmed by vehicles as holidaymakers descend on quieter areas with caravans and motorhomes, causing traffic jams and a parking free-for-all.
In the Scottish Highlands, angry locals around the North Coast 500 (NC500) route have been cataloguing the littering of their villages and beauty spots with abandoned tents, human excrement and even a dumped caravan.
Meanwhile the website Pitchup.com, which sends 800,000 people a year to 2,000 campsites across the UK, said reservations are already at double last year’s level. Caravan Club bookings for campsites and campervans have gone up by 10 per cent for next month, despite the sites normally being quite full during a normal summer.
Bosses at campsites, which were allowed to reopen from the coronavirus lockdown in England on July 4, now believe the peak season could extend into September as people continue to search for a holiday.
But many tourists are now going ‘fly camping’ if they cannot secure a hard-to-find spot at a campsite, with the National Trust reporting a large rise in the practice. A shortage of motorhomes has also been reported, with six of Britain’s leading rental firms so booked up that they have no availability for the next three weeks.
Meanwhile mountain rescue teams in the Lake District say they have seen a ‘tidal wave of avoidable rescues’ that is putting strain on their volunteers amid fears that a further influx of visitors will only ‘make the matter worse’.
Tourists pictured yesterday camping at the picturesque Calda House near Inchnadamph in the Highlands, a scheduled ancient monument which was built in 1660 by the 3rd Earl of Seaforth
The Ramslade Caravan and Motorhome Club near Paignton in Devon is pictured today. Caravan Club bookings for campsites and campervans have gone up by 10 per cent for next month
Children, their parents and grandparents play in the sunshine at Elmhurst Caravan Park on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent today .
The Ramslade Caravan and Motorhome Club near Paignton today. A shortage of motorhomes has been reported, with six of Britain’s leading rental firms so booked up that they have no availability for the next three weeks
People enjoy the sunshine today at Elmhurst Caravan Park at Eastchurch on the Isle Of Sheppey in Kent today
The Waterside Holiday Park in Paignton is pictured today. Bosses at campsites, which were allowed to reopen from the coronavirus lockdown in England on July 4, now believe the peak season could extend into September
As other tourists head to Scotland, Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone, for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said he wants a campervan congestion charge with the cash reinvested into improving local roads.
He said: ‘The Scottish Government need to know the full force of our concerns about the NC500 roads and the impact that irresponsible tourists are having on us all. I’ve always supported our local tourism and hospitality industries but we need some fairness.’
European coronavirus ‘second wave’ could mean more quarantine restrictions on the way
Boris Johnson indicated that quarantine restrictions could be imposed on further European countries if a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus hits the continent.
The Prime Minister already faces a diplomatic row with Spain after warning against all but essential travel to the country – and its resort islands – and insisting that travellers arriving in the UK from there spend a fortnight in quarantine due to an increase in cases.
He insisted the Government would not hesitate to act if flare-ups of coronavirus occurred in other destinations, as it also emerged that ministers are examining ways to declare regions of other nations safe for travel.
‘I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic,’ the Prime Minister warned.
With holidaymakers already facing uncertainty over trips abroad this summer, Mr Johnson indicated further action could be considered by the Government.
‘It’s vital that when people are coming back from abroad, if they are coming back from a place where I’m afraid there is another outbreak, they must go into quarantine,’ he said.
‘That’s why we have taken the action that we have and we will continue, throughout the summer, to take such action where it is necessary.’
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez described the restrictions on travel to the country as an ‘error’.
He pointed out that the upsurge in coronavirus cases is focused in two regions, Catalonia and Aragon, adding: ‘In most of Spain, the incidence is very much inferior to even the numbers registered in the United Kingdom.’
Madrid had been urging the UK to exclude the Canaries and Balearics – which include popular tourist resorts on Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca – from its quarantine requirements.
But instead, official travel advice was tightened to bring the islands in line with the Spanish mainland.
Highland councillor Hugh Morrison said on one night last week there were 48 vehicles and 28 tents at one beach spot in Durness, adding: ‘It is just out of hand.’
And in the Lake District, since last Friday evening the region’s mountain rescue teams have had 19 callouts – with 11 said to be ‘truly avoidable with inexperienced and ill prepared walkers’ in serious trouble.
One rescue on Scafell Pike late on Saturday night in forecasted ‘atrocious’ conditions for a family group of three lasted 12 hours and involved five rescue teams.
Richard Warren, chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, said: ‘Stay vacation holidays are introducing a new type of visitor to the National Parks and the current quarantine rules has the potential to make the matter worse.
‘North Wales is experiencing a similar problem and we are sure that the same is being felt across many of the UK’s outdoor holiday destinations, great for the economy but a real issue for the volunteer rescue teams.’
Caravan Club chief executive Nick Lomas told the Daily Telegaph: ‘We had a very slow period at the start of the year, effectively opening for a week in March until July.
‘So the first half of the year for the campsite and caravan park operators in the UK has been a very lean time. But then since the announcement from July 4 in England, the phones have lit up and the website has been very, very busy.
‘There is a natural feeling that (a campervan) is a self-contained space, you have that element of control, being able to travel place to place and being able to explore the coasts and countryside of the UK at your leisure.’
Pitchup.com said it took some 6,100 bookings on Sunday, representing around 18,000 people, which was up by 20 per cent on the previous Sunday.
Founder of the booking platform, Dan Yates, said there is a clear switch to staycations.
He said: ‘For many who were just starting to consider booking a trip abroad this is probably the nail in the coffin, with the change in regulations fundamentally damaging consumer confidence to travel overseas.
‘The tightened financial climate means British holidaymakers are unlikely to take the risk of not being able to work when they return which has likely been the catalyst for this weekend’s surge in UK bookings.’ The website also offers bookings to campsites across Europe.
Mr Yates said: ‘The tourism and hospitality sector has been decimated by Covid and our Spanish site owners are in uproar.
‘They believe a more localised approach which focuses on quarantine in the specific regions which have been affected by the Covid peaks would have been a more appropriate and effective response by the UK government.
‘This is, however, good news for domestic campsites and caravan parks as thousands will substitute a UK holiday for their usual one abroad.’
Mr Yates said: ‘The ever changing guidance is likely to cause mass confusion and concern amongst Brits, with many likely to elect to play it safe and staying closer to home this year.’
One of the pictures of cars parked up in the Scottish Highlands, posted on Facebook group NC500 The Land Weeps
Another picture of the huge numbers of visitors to the Scottish Highlands in recent days
In Scotland, angry locals around the North Coast 500 route have been cataloguing the huge numbers of visitors to the area
In the South of England, sunseekers and families are flocking to the beach at Lyme Regis in Dorset today to soak up the sun
People play in the sea on Weymouth beach in Dorset today as Britain enjoys a day of warm weather
People in pedalos off the coast of Weymouth in Dorset today as temperatures rise across the country
Haven, Butlin’s, Center Parcs and Hoseasons are also being inundated, while holiday cottage bookings are being swept up.
Heathrow demands end to ‘quarantine roulette’ after £1.1billion loss
Heathrow has urged the Government to stop imposing ‘quarantine roulette’ on travellers as it announced a pre-tax loss of £1.1 billion in the first six months of the year.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the financial results ‘should serve as a clarion call’ to ministers to introduce a scheme for coronavirus testing of arriving passengers.
He wants the 14-day self-isolation requirement to be eased for people arriving from countries not on the Government’s exemption list if they test negative for the virus.
Heathrow’s passenger numbers were down 96 per cent year on year between April and June.
It made a pre-tax loss of £1.1 billion in the first six months of 2020, down from a £7million profit in the same period a year ago. This came on revenue of £712million, around half of 2019’s levels.
Some sites and parks are already taking strong bookings up to summer next year, throwing a lifeline to the industry.
However, certain businesses are hiking prices by as much as 50 per cent for 2021 to try to make up for the money lost during the lockdown.
The UK tourism industry is set to benefit from the fact a shock change in Government travel and quarantine rules has effectively cancelled hundreds of thousands of holidays to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary islands.
At the same time, many Britons have given up on foreign holidays altogether this summer amid fears sudden coronavirus controls could be imposed on travel to other European hotspots.
The appeal of a British holiday has been boosted by a Government decision to slash VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for the hospitality industry.
As a result, Haven, Butlin’s and Center Parcs have cut prices on new bookings by more than 10 per cent for the summer.
The rush has put a huge strain on holiday companies. There is evidence of double bookings, resulting in trips being cancelled at the last minute.
Haven said bookings at its 36 parks had soared by 96 per cent year-on-year. Its sister brand Butlin’s also claims to be doing a roaring trade.
Hoseasons has had to recruit extra phone staff to cope with the huge demand.
But earlier this week traffic was brought to a standstill next a country park in Bury, Greater Manchester, after motorhome users parked and double parked on an access road.
And last week the National Trust warned the ugly trend of campers dumping tents and equipment instead of taking them home was blighting the countryside.
Mountain rescue teams in the Lake District, including the one in Keswick (above), say they have seen a ‘tidal wave of avoidable rescues’ that is putting strain on their volunteers
Keswick Mountain Rescue volunteers are pictured. Since last Friday, the region’s teams have had 19 callouts – with 11 said to be ‘truly avoidable with inexperienced and ill prepared walkers’
Motorhome and camper van owners parked at the North Berwick coast in Scotland on July 19
Campervan and motorhome owners parked in North Berwick earlier this month on July 19
‘Fly-camping’, a camping expedition that results in fly-tipping and often seen at music festivals such as Glastonbury, has become a headache for staff, the organisation said.
Workers have come across dumped tents, airbeds, chairs among other things when cleaning up grounds. To go with it is a grubby heap of beer and food cans, disposable barbecues and excrement.
In Dovedale, in the Peak District, 170 large bin bags were collected in just over three days last month. And in recent weeks alone, 25 tents as well as 20 camping chairs, six air beds and several BBQs have all been picked up.
Instead of looking after wildlife or managing hay meadows, National Trust rangers now have to spend their time carting away the heaps of mess left behind.
Caused by a ‘disposable festival mentality’ the rubbish piles can pose a hazard to sheep and other animals.
The trend has not been helped by a reduced capacity at many organised campsites because of the coronavirus.