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Campervan demand soars thanks to holidays at home

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Keith Charlton and Louise Corken from Bunk Campers

Keith Charlton and Louise Corken from Bunk Campers

Keith Charlton and Louise Corken from Bunk Campers

Campervan firms have avoided a Covid-19 crash thanks to a boom in staycations.

Since self-catering accommodation or pitch-up in caravan parks and campsites reopened on June 26, a spike in demand has been reported that has offset cancellations by overseas holidaymakers.

Staycationers looking to rent campervans and explore Ireland this summer have steered firms back from the brink, with most now sold out for the coming months.

Garry Huston from Causeway Campers in Portrush says almost all of his customers say they are going to explore the Wild Atlantic Way instead of jetting off to the sun, and he is taking bookings up to November.

Now in his eighth season in business, Garry says he has never seen such a high demand from the local market for rentals, with his company inundated with calls and emails from those seeking to holiday at home.

"We've always had a busy summer but previously our business was more airport-based with people flying in from overseas, which is obviously not happening this year," he said.

"It's all 100% local for this year so it's a different customer base."

Like many firms, Garry saw a dramatic U-turn on the tourism market when overseas clients cancelled trips only for the vans to be rebooked by those planning to take a holiday at home.

"Things started to unravel in February when we saw very few bookings coming through from the international market," he explained.

"But since the separate announcements by Dublin and Stormont, since June it has been very busy. After 16 weeks of having no business I've lost well over a quarter of my financial year, which has been tough.

"Now I've done about six months' worth of work in the space of a few weeks and everyone is clearly seeing the value of a self-contained safe space."

Managing director of Carryduff-based Bunk Campers Keith Charlton told the Belfast Telegraph campervans are proving to be a popular option for domestic holidays both in terms of the freedom and connectivity to the outdoors and because of their unique ability to provide self-contained cooking, washing and sleeping facilities for the whole family.

"Additionally, campsites are well set up for social distancing and provide safe, socially distanced places for guests to go on their road trip," Keith said.

"Normally we would be fully booked over the summer period with international guests.

"However, the curtailment of international travel has meant that many of our international guests have postponed their motorhome holiday until 2021.

"Prior to lockdown, local guests accounted for around 30% of our Belfast bookings.

"The massive surge in demand from the local market means that around 90% of Belfast bookings are now for local guests. When lockdown restrictions started to be relaxed across the UK and Ireland over 150,000 people visited our website in June in search of a campervan holiday.

"Availability for July and August are now extremely limited across our Belfast and Dublin depots. However, demand is continuing for September, October and November at all of our depots across the UK and Ireland."

Motorhome Hire NI in Hillsborough also confirmed that it is fully booked until August 29.

Belfast Telegraph