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Our April issue of Practical Motorhome is now on sale, and it comes with this free copy of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association’s (BH&HPA) guide to over 2000 of Britain’s best independent campsites.


And today I’m at the BH&HPA’s conference in Kenilworth. First, what is the BH&HPA? It’s a trade body that looks after the interests of the British parks industry, and its members are the owners and managers of most of Britain’s campsites – which no doubt includes favourites of yours and mine.


What happens at the conference? Over two days, there’s a bunch of seminars separated with tea breaks and a spot of shoulder-rubbing with big names in the campsite industry.


OK, so I’d rather be on the road in a motorhome like I was last month for my trip to Picardy (see our April issue Grand Tour for more on this), but it’s certainly not dull and I’ve gleaned a few gems of information.


Tory MP John Penrose, the Minister for Tourism and Heritage, took to the stage to make a David Cameron-style, no-notes speech. He revealed £100m plans to attract foreign tourists to the UK, lamented how rubbish Britain is at talking up its own attractions as a holiday destination, and beat the Big Society drum with talk about ‘stronger local tourism’ bodies and ‘destination management organisations’.


When one representative from Lincolnshire – which they claimed has the highest concentration of caravans in Europe – complained their county council had pulled the plug on tourism and transport funding, he seemed unfazed and proposed a cooperative of local businesses go and tell them they’d made a mistake.


In other seminars, there were plenty of interesting stats that point to a growing love of our hobby and the great outdoors.


Go Outdoors, the outdoor equipment retailer, saw sales rise 57% to £114.9m in the year to Jan 30, 2011 – and it plans to open 10 new stores a year for the next two years.


In research of 7300 caravans and motorhomes to UK sites in 2010, 85% of those surveyed said they’d return to the site in future, and that the most important thing a site had to get right was to have a friendly, welcoming staff, and for the park to be clean and well maintained. Agreed!


Research among a 1400-strong customer panel of site visitors revealed they spent around £50-£55 per night in the local economy – and that doesn’t include pitch fees!


If any of us needs reminding how important we are to the British economy in these trying financial times, this is concrete proof that we’re doing our bit by enjoying regular weekend and longer tours here in the UK. And if you’re at a loss as to where to stay on your next tour, take a look at the book we’ve published free with our April issue, or visit the BH&HPA’s site.


Rob Ganley, editor