National Caravan Council (NCC) Director General, John Lally, previews the Motorhome & Caravan Show, which returns to Birmingham’s NEC this week, at a time when the use of leisure vehicles in the UK is on the up. There will even be a world record attempt on opening day…
Excitement is building as the finishing touches are put to the Motorhome & Caravan Show, filling 11 huge halls at the NEC in Birmingham – all the signs are that we will have another highly successful event.
The show is the place where new 2016 models from leading UK and European manufacturers are unveiled to the public to browse – and buy. It’s the national showcase for our industry and is the third largest consumer show at the NEC in terms of footfall – nearly 100,000 visitors came in 2014. It provides not just a valuable sales platform but also a showcase for all that’s new for the year ahead.
The event at the NEC this week is the centre-piece exhibition for the industry. Supported by The Caravan Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club, it features every type of leisure vehicle, including caravans, motorhomes, campervans, trailer tents and folding caravans, luxury lodges and caravan holiday homes. On opening day, we will reveal a world first – a life-size model caravan made from LEGO® bricks, hopefully setting a new Guinness World Record.
People I speak to outside our sector are often surprised about the size and scale of the caravan industry in the UK. It contributes more than £6bn per annum and employs around 130,000 people. It also remains a British manufacturing success story; over 95% of touring and holiday caravans in the UK are made here and around 60% of motorhomes.
Some 50 million nights are spent in caravans annually and, due to advances in technology and the way modern caravans are constructed, year round caravan use is now possible, providing valuable support for the domestic tourism industry in the low season.
The economic recession hit our industry hard but I am proud of the way in which our members have responded and the mood now is one of optimism. Businesses are growing, order books are looking extremely healthy and through this we are seeing a new, and younger, demographic staycationing.
I am delighted that the Government is committed to growing tourism and to spreading the benefits right across the UK. The caravan industry has a crucial part to play in that and the industry has come together to promote the leisure vehicle lifestyle through its www.freedomtogo.co.uk campaign.
This encourages people to ‘get out there’ and explore our amazing country in a leisure vehicle. For my mind, this is one of the best ways to get into the great outdoors and experience what our great nation has to offer.
John Lally is Director General of the NCC.
The NCC is the trade body for the UK caravan industry, encompassing touring caravans, motorhomes, caravan holiday homes and park homes. www.thencc.org.uk