The international booking platform is seeing further growth so far this year having surpassed the two million annual customer landmark for the first time in 2022
Camping sees post-pandemic pick-up, online specialist Pitchup.com claims
Campsite booking platform Pitchup.com is seeing continued growth post-pandemic following a record year in 2022.
The specialist online retailer, which offers 5,600 outdoor accommodation locations in 67 countries, broke the two million customer mark last year for the first time.
To date this month the site has seen a 46% year-on-year leap in booking volumes. Since 2019, it has handled £250 million worth of bookings amounting to over 25 million bed nights.
Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com, concludes: "Pitchup.com has continued to see steady growth throughout 2022 and we expect this to continue well into 2023, with Brits recognising the many advantages outdoor accommodation offers, such as outstanding value, a low environmental impact and mental health benefits.
“There have been some major changes in the way people travel over the last couple of years, but the popularity of outdoor holidays continues to grow in new and exciting ways that are beneficial for both holidaymakers as well as the local economy.
“We are already seeing this growth continue into 2023 as many recognise that outdoor accommodation can offer a cost effective alternative to other types of accommodation when looking for those all important breaks.”
Latest analysis of its 24 million users and more than 32 million visits to the Pitchup.com website has unearthed a few key trends.
Leaving it late
Holidaymakers are booking breaks later and later with the average lead time falling by 15% in 2022 compared to the previous year.
Pitchup.com believes this is due to reduced concern about domestic accommodation availability as international travel options opened up further after the pandemic.
International travellers discover GB
Pitchup.com has seen a peak in inbound interest in outdoor accommodation, with a rise of 58% in non-domestic UK bookings.
“Perhaps a desire for space and greenery combined with the cost of living crisis has caused international visitors to tighten their purse strings, and think about the penny power a camping or caravan pitch provides,” the firm said.
Non-domestic transactions for UK sites have increased a further 144% so far this year compared to 2022, suggesting the trend is here to stay.
Cold camping heats up
The season is extending, with UK winter arrivals for December 21, 2022 to March 20, 2023 up 118% compared to 2019/20 and up nearly 30% compared to 2021/22.
Although the sample size is small, bookings so far this year for next winter are already up 226% compared to the same time last year.
While almost all destinations have seen bookings grow significantly when comparing 2019 to 2022 those with high growth include Cumbria, Hampshire and Powys, while Cornwall, Devon and Somerset all saw lower growth rates.
Emerging areas that saw a huge growth spurt year-on-year include East Yorkshire (409% rise), Oxfordshire (353%) and Staffordshire (499%).
This rise in locations close to major conurbations and travellers holidaying closer to home was put down to rising fuel costs.
It is also thought increased concern about overtourism could also be causing Brits to consider new, less crowded, places as international tourism bounced back.
The COVID pet boom that saw 5.4 million animal companions acquired during lockdowns fuelled a 48% increase in searches for dog-friendly pitches in 2022 than before the pandemic, and up a further 5% so far this year.
There has also been a 99% increase in people hunting for a site that offers fishing, and a further 7%c increase so far this year.
Camping goes mainstream
One of the most significant changes reported by Pitchup.com is how camping has attracted a new audience.
The site saw a 66% increase in searches for four-star quality, while family camping fell from favour with a decrease of 32% in searches for family appropriate sites.
In 2019, 41% of Pitchup.com’s bookings included children, but now two-thirds of bookings are for adults.
It is thought holidaymakers who would have historically travelled abroad or stayed in hotels, are looking for alternate forms of short breaks.
Enticing the eco-conscious
Search activity around local produce (up 149%) and pick up from public transport (up 288%), point to preference for holidays with a reduced carbon footprint.
Pitchup.com says outdoor accommodation offers a 90% reduction in emissions compared to an equivalent holiday abroad.
Campers also tend to engage in more activities that have a low impact on the environment, such as walking, cycling or canoeing.