WITH overseas holiday travel made difficult this year, there an expected boom in staycation hols for many this summer – and farmers can play a major role in catering for that demand.

New figures from Pitchup.com revealed that in the first quarter of this year, there had been a surge in farmers setting up campsites to cash in on the staycation boom.

Of the 2000 campsite listed on the site, more than 700 are on working farms and 300 of those are temporary sites being set up to take advantage of the peak holiday season.

Many have been set up this year as farmers have been determined to take advantage of the post-Covid-19 financial recovery.

Pitchup.com – Europe’s largest outdoor accommodation provider – said many sites had joined the business in the first quarter of 2021. Another driver for this had been a change in planning policy which increased the length of time farms and other land-based businesses could legally operate a campsite without planning permission, from 28 days to 56 days.

Other factors included concerns about falling support payments and about the government’s Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme.

Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com, said farmers were turning to temporary campsites in droves because they were quick and easy diversification projects to get underway.

He said: “Establishing a campsite is easy. At their most basic, all you need is a patch of land and running water, which most farms have already, and some toilets, which are easy to hire. Crucially, you don’t need planning permission to operate one for up to 56 days per year.

A typical Scottish farm campsite

A typical Scottish farm campsite

“With staycations booming and that trend set to stay, people are crying out for beautiful areas of the countryside where they can enjoy a relaxing break away from the pressures of work and lockdown.

“Farmers are perfectly placed to provide that. The farm-based campsites we work with can decide how many guests they want to host and with demand as it is, we are extremely confident we can fill those pitches.”

And it can pay off for those who take the chance: “We’ve had one farm in Cumbria take more than £7000 in bookings in a single day,” he said. “We have seen others take as much as £13,000 across a weekend and £50,000 over a week.

“Although most campsites don’t generate this level of income, even small pop-up sites – which are the easiest by far to accommodate – return on average £13,000 in extra revenue per year and many take much more than this.

“It’s hardly surprising therefore, that they’re becoming so popular among farms and land-owning businesses. We expect to see many more farmers try this kind of diversification as we come out of lockdown and the summer gets closer.”

* Interested landowners can find out more at https://www.pitchup.com/how-start-campsite-caravan-park/ and https://www.pitchup.com/join/ or phone 0203 743 9975.