Outside money!


'It's definitely worth it,' says Welsh farmer turned campsite owner Andrew Johnson. 'It's been an answer to our dreams.'

He means the decision to set up a campsite on his farm, Bryn Tawel in Gwynedd, which now offers pitches to holidaymakers with their own tent, touring caravan or motorhome. Since he started, bookings - and extra income - have been flooding in.

With low interest rates and sky high property prices, both working and retired officers may want to tap in to the camping revolution as a valuable new revenue stream.

Andrew Johnson is a former caravanner, so the idea to set up a campsite came easily to him. Many other landowners have realised that setting up a campsite on unused land they already own is a safe and simple way to add an extra and steady income to an existing career or an easy way to maintain a reasonable income right through retirement.

Adding a campsite to one's land or purchasing land is a little-known opportunity thus far. But it's one that's set to rise and rise, as domestic tourism and camping/caravanning in particular increases in popularity, and celebs at festivals such as Glastonbury contribute to the rise of glamorous camping or glamping.
Camping is the biggest part of the domestic tourism market, accounting for 47% more holiday nights than hotels. The scorching summer of 2013 saw a 20% rise in camping holidays alone.

At its simplest, campsite owners can provide a field for tents along with a portaloo and water tap. Others, like Johnson, choose to add electric hookup and to encourage owners of touring caravans or motorhomes. Some will focus on glamping and set up furnished tipis, camping pods, shepherd's huts and restored gypsy caravans, such as at West Wales Camping Pods in Carmarthenshire and Twitey's Tipis in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Some offer a mixture of accommodation, like St Leonards Farm in Bournemouth which has pitches from £11 per night and a two-bedroom caravan from £50, or Woodgate Farm in Norfolk which has a double-decker bus on offer.
Owners can also offer goods or services to their guests covering everything from firepit hire to breakfast hampers including fresh farm eggs. This makes the advantages of setting up a campsite 'almost limitless', says Dan Yates, founder of camping and caravanning site Pitchup.com.

Those with an excess of space can offer even more to their guests: 'Gorsebank Camping Cabins in Dumfries and Galloway offer bikes for hire and fishing on their private lake. Woodgate Farm has an indoor pool and a tanning salon! There are so many possibilities for farmers.'

But how to reach this vast and growing market? These days having a web presence is essential, leaving some less tech-minded individuals behind. Others won't have the time to set up a website. Most won't have the advertising budget.
This is the secret behind Pitchup.com, used by all those mentioned earlier. It's the biggest booking site for camping, caravanning and glamping in the UK and assists campsite owners in selling their pitches - with no upfront fees.

'We simply charge a commission of 15% on each pitch sold,' says Yates. 'It works well for those campsites who don't have their own website or don't have an advertising budget, as on Pitchup.com sites can reach up to 60,000 daily users. We're sending bookings on a daily basis to our members.'
It's worked out well for Andrew Johnson, who now sells 95% of his pitches through Pitchup.com. Clive Meeks at Top Farm says he would have 'no reservations (pun intended!)' in recommending the company to others interested in diversifying or looking for an income to take them into retirement. Gillian Henshaw of Bluebell Farm Holidays at Skegness says the business 'turned around and zoomed within 5 days of joining'.

Sources: IPS, VisitEngland, Barclaycard

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