Caravaning catches on in China

UK exports of caravans to China have increased, with caravan makers achieving higher sales to Asian consumers, the Telegraph news company revealed on Monday.

According to the Telegraph, Hull-based caravan maker Swift Leisure, which makes touring caravans and motorhomes, has seen its export sales increase by a third to £12m.

Caravan holidays in countries such as Holland and Germany remain popular, but Swift has reportedly experienced growing interest from Asia and the company is said to be in talks with several dealers about potential partnerships in China, where caravans are currently a niche travel choice. Touring caravans are anticipated to surge in popularity in China, as the Chinese government is making investments to encourage its people to holiday at home rather than abroad.

With an overall turnover of £200m, Swift reportedly made 8,500 touring caravans and 2,500 motor homes in 2014. The company’s commercial director Nick Page was quoted as saying: “The market is very small, but even getting 0.1pc of the Chinese population would explode our business.”

Demand for touring caravans in the UK is also on the rise, with production at Suffolk-based holiday home maker Omar said to be on the rise. It was reported that this company is planning a 40,000 sq ft extension to its main facility in Brandon, which will double output within three years.

Omar’s chief executive Dean Westmoreland was cited as saying: “there had been a 40% rise in people looking to live in one of the 1,250 residential caravan parks across the UK.

He added that the company sees park homes as a solution to the housing shortage in the UK, and it’s becoming popular for people who have retired and looking to downsize, but said “The problem is, it’s near-impossible to get planning permission for new caravan parks.” The company’s luxury holiday lodges sell for between £75,000 and £500,000.