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Canopy & Stars

Merchants House 
Wapping Road 
Bristol 
BS1 4RY
May 2020 
 

Dear Mr Downden, Mr Huddleston, Mr Double and Ms Stevens,
 

Re: A focused action plan to save a key component of the future of UK sustainable tourism. The glamping industry needs ongoing government support and a ‘re-opening’ tourism strategy that reflects its unique nature and value. Without this support the sector could collapse putting thousands of rural jobs at risk. 

We are calling for UK glamping spaces to be given flexibility to open when it is safe and not subject to a ‘one size fits all’ approach to hospitality businesses. Due to its nature, glamping presents less risk to guests and owners than other sectors of hospitality. 

I am writing to you as Co-founder and Director of Canopy & Stars. Canopy & Stars, the UK’s leading glamping company with over 600 spaces across England, Scotland & Wales. These include treehouses, cabins, yurts, shepherd’s huts and wagons – beautiful places to stay in nature. We represent hundreds of independent owners operating sustainable tourism businesses. These owners all have a network of local suppliers and play an important role in rural economies of bringing guests to areas where tourism provides critical jobs.  

The glamping sector and sustainable tourism  

The UK is a world leader in the glamping sector, which is growing exponentially. According to a recent report, there are now over 3,600 glamping spaces in the UK1, making up a key part of the future of sustainable tourism.  

Self-catering, including glamping and camping accounted for 23 million trips in 20192, as a whole, the camping, glamping and holiday park sector contributes £9.3bn in visitor expenditure equating to £5.3bn Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy3. 

We urgently need your help in saving this flourishing industry. Glamping is, and should continue to be, a key part of a dynamic and progressive future vision for British tourism.  We applaud government recognition that a post Covid-19 economy needs to put sustainability first and it is clear how important the tourism industry is to the UK economy. We ask that you support this sustainable tourism niche, by doing so you will not only support the thousands of owners and the associated economic ripple within their local rural economy, but also enable the wellbeing of guests who need time in nature, and help to maintain the wonderful natural environment of the UK countryside.  

Social distancing and risk:  

We are asking for the government ‘re-opening of tourism’ policies to consider and reflect the unique nature of glamping: 

  • Glamping spaces tend to be remote and rural by nature. The vast majority of our spaces are on their own, in single units, or situated at a safe distance from other units on the same site. Allowing families, couple and household units to holiday together without contact with others.  
  • Our owners are all signing up to a ‘Clean and Safe Charter’. This charter is linked to government cleaning guidelines and includes implementation of measures like self-check-in and other measures to make it easy for guests to practice good hygiene. The charter is designed to help guests stay in a safe environment and with minimal contact.  

Within UK tourism, glamping is unique in the space guests stay in, how they use it and how they arrive and ‘check-in’. It is a comparatively safe option when compared to all other forms of accommodation, including hotels and camping. We ask that this unique quality is reflected in the government tourism re-opening strategy. 

More support is needed:  

We are also asking for better support packages for the independent rural entrepreneurs and sustainable tourism champions who have created and operate the glamping sector. We thank the government for the support offered so far by way of grants, loans and furlough schemes to date. But the reality is that: 

  • Over 25% Canopy & Stars owners do not qualify for any of these schemes, according to a survey of our Canopy & Stars owners in April 2020.  
  • The margins are very slim and breakeven is 70% occupancy year round. With limited cash reserves and owners having lost months of the season already, many are in survival mode 

Our proposal to you: 

With 2020 and 2021 looking incredibly challenging for the glamping industry, in summary, we ask you to: 

Recognise and reflect the unique safe nature of the glamping accommodation when considering the ‘opening up’ of UK tourism 

  • No limit to occupancy for glamping spaces that sleep below 6 – It is safe for guests to stay as long as owners take necessary precautions as detailed in our Clean and Safe charter 
  • If staggering the opening of tourism businesses from 4 July onwards, ensure that ‘glamping’ is explicitly included in phase 1 

Offer additional ongoing support to glamping businesses to help with cashflow in 2020 and 2021 

  • Introduce a grant for ‘home’ businesses who are not able to access existing grant schemes 
  • Extend furlough and introduce a further developed, flexible, phased and part time scheme until end of Q1 2021 
  • Tax relief measures including extension of the self-employed allowance, extension of Business Rates holiday until end of Q2 2021, reduction in VAT for hospitality businesses 2020/21, further extension of time for repayment of deferred VAT/PAYE, allowing for normal trading to fund these payments 

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this letter. 

 
Respectfully yours 

Tom Dixon 

Co-founder and Director  

Canopy & Stars 

Merchants House, Wapping Road, Bristol BS1 4RY 

  

References: 

  1. Research conducted by Crown & Canopy & International Glamping Business, published January 2020  
  1. Visit Britain Great Britain Domestic Overnight Trips Summary - Holiday Purposes – 2019 
  1. ‘Pitching the Value’ UK Caravan & Camping Alliance 2019 Economic Benefit Report