Caravan and holiday park owners from across Cumbria met in Ambleside recently on the eve of what they say could be a challenging summer for their industry.

Venue for the get-together was Skelwith Fold caravan park where delegates discussed both the opportunities and issues now being facing Cumbria tourism providers.

All are members of the Cumbria branch of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association to which around 100 mainly family-owned parks in the county belong.

Branch director Henry Wild, whose family has owned Skelwith Fold for over 25 years, said that a number of factors had made this a highly unusual year for parks:

“With the holiday season almost in full swing, we had to cope last week with half of our staff off with Covid – and it’s a similar story on many other parks,” said Henry.

“In past years we might have been able to meet this challenge by taking on temporary staff, but like all of the hospitality industry we are facing severe recruitment difficulties.

“Soaring fuel prices are also likely to be making some visitors think twice about travelling a long distance to Cumbria, but we will have to wait and see what influence this has.

“Our branch also discussed so-far unresolved issues such as providing sufficient charging points for electric vehicles against the background of a limited power supply infrastructure.

“Some members have also express concern that “pop-up” campsites, which are unregulated and often unsupervised, are giving people a distorted impression of our industry,” added Henry.

But, he said, the overall outlook was far from gloomy:

“During lockdowns in the past, many people took a UK holiday for the first time in years. They clearly enjoyed the experience and are now coming back for more.

“The continuing chaos of airport delays and flight cancellations are also prompting many families to prefer the more relaxing option of a UK holiday,” said Henry.

As well as hearing from specialist speakers at the meeting, delegates enjoyed a tour of Skelwith Fold’s 130-acre grounds where staying options include luxury safari tents.