Spain experiences boom in camping grounds

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Campgrounds in Spain are experiencing a higher occupancy rate as families opt for cheaper options of renting bungalows and cabins.

29 August 2008

BENIDORM -- A crisis may be casting a long dark shadow over the world economic horizon, but camping grounds are booming.

The reasoning is simple. In a campsite you can pitch your tent, shop in the supermarket and have all the essential utilities and services you need, for a fraction of the cost of living in a hotel.

And sites along the Mediterranean coast of Spain are enjoying a very "sweet summer," in the words of the president of the Valencian Campground Federation, Fernando Bonet, who calculates that the occupancy rate in Valencian campgrounds has been just as high as in previous years, and in many places higher.

This contrasts with the region's hotels and holiday apartments, which have seen occupancy fall. In the case of Benidorm, occupancy is down by seven points compared with last year's rate for this time of year.

But while hotels seem to be going out of fashion, so are traditional tents. Instead, families are renting bungalows and cabins in campgrounds, which while not as cheap as living in a tent, are still more economical than a hotel.

Reflecting the boom in the sector, the largest campground in Spain and one of the largest in Europe, will be opening its gates in early 2010 at Crevillent, near Alicante.

On 350,000 square metres of land, the campground will have 1,720 trailer lots and around 40 bungalows with two rooms, bathroom and air conditioning. There will also be a complete range of services: a huge swimming pool, a supermarket, two restaurants, a hairdresser's salon, car rental, bars and a spa. The aim is to project a new image of camping.

For about EUR 60 per lot and EUR 150 per bungalow per day, you can live as if you were in a five-star tourist complex with all the conveniences, but at much lower prices.

Recent years have seen a real "revolution" in Spain's camping industry, says Francisco Delgado of the Benidorm Campgrounds Association, owing to the phenomenon of "hibernation".

"People from the north of Europe used to come here for two months. Now they stay from October to April. Many of them leave the trailer here and rent the lot all year round," he explains. Almost all are middle-income retirees from northern Europe.

"Why do we come here? For the sun, the climate. We come here to hibernate and enjoy the time we have left," says Thomas Howe, 78, from Britain. "We like to walk, go to the beach, talk to the neighbours in other lots."

[El Pais / Sergi Castillo / Expatica]

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