Farmers tap into booming camping and caravanning sector to boost income

This winter, outdoor accommodation search specialist has revealed its figures for farm bookings in 2015, showing 20,463 bookings at farm sites throughout the UK and Ireland over the last year – representing a massive 31% growth on 2014.

The farm site listed with the provider took a whopping £60,000 in bookings in the past 12 months alone. Given that the average UK farm earns just £27,000 in net farm income, this is a huge opportunity to grow income and make farming a more viable and attractive business.

Pitchup founder Dan Yates commented: “The British farming industry has seen a serious decline over the last couple of decades, with total farm income in 2014 26% below its 1995 peak. With farm business income per farm down 9% in 2014/15 compared to last year, financial difficulties remain a cause for concern. However farmers can invigorate their finances and their farms by diversifying into other areas, and this is easier to do than they might think.

“The way to help farms is via a diversification programme and this is where we can assist. It can be very straightforward to set up and run a campsite on a farm and the results can be game-changing, as the following figures show:

  • The average farm campsite earnt £7,000 in bookings on Pitchup over the last year
  • Average net farm income was £27,000 in 2013/14
  • 49% of farms earned £10,000 or under in net farm income in 2013/14
  • Pitchup's best selling campsite earned £200,000 of bookings in the last 12 months

Yates continues: “Following the recent pressure on the sector including the milk crisis, over the last six months, we have seen 45% more farms register on compared to last year, renting land out as pitches or adding lodge, caravan or ‘glamping’ accommodation.”

At present Pitchup has 250 farmers selling outdoor holidays via its website.
“The domestic camping and caravan market is worth £2.3bn per annum and we’re encouraging farms to get on board and enjoy a slice of this income. One of our farms took 95% of its campsite bookings income last year from its listing on Pitchup. Farmers already own the land in most cases – why not put unfarmed parts of it to use?”

The facts for farmers:

  • Brits holidaying at home spend 25% more nights at campsites or caravan parks than at hotels
  • They spend £2.3bn each year during GB camping and caravanning trips
  • They take more camping and caravanning trips in Britain than holidays to Spain and Greece combined
  • Campsites have received up to £200,000 in bookings over the last year, with the average farm campsite receiving £7,000 and the most successful farm campsite receiving £60,000
  • A simple call to a local council will provide information about planning permission and obtaining a licence to run a campsite on a farm. Consent is not always required and many
  • applications no longer need to be considered by a council committee
  • Many companies now build and deliver glamping options such as camping pods, meaning that farmers can set up with little effort and generate a year-round income from holidaymakers