Farmers diversify into holiday accommodation

Farmers are increasingly diversifying into tourism to offset the decline in their regular income from farming.  

Figures from DEFRA’s 2020 Total Income from Farming (TIFF) forecast  show a reduction of 21 per cent in income with weather, reduced crop area and yields, pests and disease contributing to a 13 per cent decline in the value of crop output.

Farmers that diversified into tourism in 2020 by opening up permanent campsites or pop-ups under last summer’s 56-day extension of permitted development rights, offset declins in income by average revenue of £12,027 from 191 bookings per site.

Pitchup lists 798 UK farm campsites on its website, an increase of 72 per cent on 2019 and almost double the year on year increase between 2018 to 2019.

Intense consumer demand for safe UK holidays over the summer of 2020 has meant bumper sales for farm campsites. In previous years, farm sites have earned as much as £100,000 in annual sales through holiday bookings on the platform whereas last year’s highest earner, a working farm in Wales, took a £215,000.

Pitchup’s Dan Yates said diversification has been crucial to farm survival. 

“Many farmers’ main asset is their vast swathes of land, much of which can lie unused. Planning permission is not always required: last summer we helped hundreds of farms to offer camping at temporary sites set up to cater for the surge in domestic holiday demand - including one that took £13,000 in bookings over the first weekend and another that made £50,000 in a week.”