The region of Murcia (Spain) has finally woken up to the huge potential of motorhomes and caravans, particularly during the low season. In recent times, there has been a conscious effort to open more dedicated areas for camper vans at realistic overnight prices, and this is paying off.
The topic of motorhomes is one which immediately sets hackles rising in some corners of the Costa Cálida, where an avalanche of motorhomes parked on every available scrap of coastal land during the winter months is a regular occurrence. This is a source of income for local shops, supermarkets, those working in tourism, restaurants, garages, etc., but a source of conflict with local residents who complain about the dumping of waste water, rubbish and dog excrement generated by some less considerate “wild” camper vanners.
However, on the whole there are rarely any major upsets relating to “wild campers”, and the numbers have been growing year on year as word spreads about the warm autumn weather and accessible coastline in the Murcia Region (see the Murcia Beach Guide).
Anycase, the principal complaint is always from the managed camping sites themselves who would prefer that wild campers use their facilities instead, although in truth, many of the managed sites are dedicated to permanent camping installations and don´t really cater for the independent travellers who need little more than a plug in point, fresh water and a place to dump dirty water, and don´t want to pay through the nose for the privilege.
In recent times, there has been a conscious effort to open more dedicated areas for camper vans at realistic overnight prices, and this is paying off; in the last six years registered travelers in regional campsites have increased by 35 percent, from 104,787 to 141,533.Overnight stays increased 15 percent during 2019 to 1,185,366. (http://www.murciabeachguide.es/)
Covid creates a whole new market for motorhome tourism
The major change this year has obviously been the emergence of Covid as an influencing factor in the decisions of how to holiday and one of the big winners has been the camper vanning sector.
This is due to the fact that holiday makers have become increasingly conscious of the need to “control their own space” with regard to hygiene, and hotels with crowded facilities, communal buffets, communal dining rooms and busy pool areas are suddenly viewed as potential transmission points, the result being that families are increasingly opting for rural property rentals, apartment rentals, camping and caravanning options.
Sales and rentals of RVs are rising as people seek a more socially isolated way to spend their vacation.
There has been a remarkable boom in the sale of motorhomes in Spain over the last five years, but this year they were being snapped up at the rate of 25 units a day, despite an average price tag of €55,000. A cheaper option is to buy a smaller camper van or to convert a regular van into one, a market that has also grown considerably.
Moreover, Camper van hire has boomed this summer, as the fear of being locked down in a hotel has spurred many to travel independently and control their own environment and this market is forecast to be a growth sector for the future. The main difference with previous years is that bookings are now stretching into September, October and November, as employees on furlough due to the pandemic gradually return to work and summer breaks are delayed until the fall.
There are 60,000 motorhomes, 10,000 camper vans and 230,000 caravans in Spain. In countries with a longer tradition of this kind of tourism, such as France and Germany, motorhomes can number as many as half a million, with 4,500 and 6,000 service areas available for these vehicles respectively, compared to 1,000 such areas in Spain. “We have come a long way,” says José Manuel Jurado, president of ASEICAR (a Spanish motorhome owners association). “In 2010, there were only 185 areas, but there are still many cities and municipalities that do not recognize the growing importance of this kind of tourism.”
Murcia gets ready for motorhomes
In response to this “Recreational Vehicles Boom” the regional tourism board is working on a new decree which will regularize campsites, introducing a new star classification, with the emphasis on improving their accessibility levels, pitches and hygienic services. The future decree will also introduce one more category for the areas of motorhomes, caravans and campers which will only be able to provide services for this type of vehicles.
Currently, the Region has 18 campsites, with 14,731 places, and applications to open 10 more are currently being processed exclusively for the motorhome sector.