Alastair ClementsSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Editor's Blog’ written by Alastair Clements
Now that the dust has settled and we’ve had time to catch our breath, I thought I’d take a brief look back at the highlights of this year’s Motorhome and Caravan Show, held at the NEC Birmingham from 16-19 October.
You can read our full report, of course, in the December issue of Practical Caravan, on sale on 5 November, but what a fascinating event! And not just for the variety of vehicles on show: it was also intriguing to use it as a barometer of the market at the moment. We’re yet to receive official figures, but it seemed to us that overall visitor numbers were ever so slightly down – and yet every manufacturer we spoke to reported a record year for sales or revenues. So it seems that those that did make it to Birmingham had brought their wallets with them.
And what were my highlights of the show? Well, it was wonderful to see Knaus Tabbert bringing its ‘caravan of the future’ to the UK, reinforcing the importance of Britain’s biggest motorhome and caravan show. And the £500,000 yacht-inspired Caravisio concept really was a thing of beauty, drawing crowds throughout the event.
But for me it was upstaged by a glamorous elder statesman that was pitched right alongside, the Swift Group’s beautifully restored Eccles President. Originally displayed at the 1938 Motor Show, and later bought (for £335) by a former Cunard ship’s captain, it offered a charming glimpse into caravanning past. Clare Kelly took a tour of this magnificent machine, so watch out for that in the next episode of The Caravan Channel, on Sky 192, Freesat 402 and live online, between Monday 27 October and Sunday 9 November.
But we were there to see new product, and there was plenty to feast our eyes on. Highlights included Coachman’s new, motorhome-inspired layout for its range-topping Laser twin-axles, the 650/4. With a longitudinal island bed at the rear and a ‘floating’ amidships washroom, it offered an interesting alternative to the current rash of transverse island bed models.
We were also delighted to see the startling Adria Altea 4Four 'Go Signature', which has now been confirmed for the UK and gives buyers the opportunity to personalise their tourer from a selection of 29 different exterior colour combinations.
But perhaps the biggest news of all to emerge from the show wasn’t from any of the manufacturer stands. It was the announcement that a new national promotional campaign for the industry will be launched next year in an effort to draw more enthusiasts into this wonderful pastime – largely by extolling the virtues of caravans and motorhomes through the national press and on television.
The joint initiative is being masterminded by the trade-backed NCC and the UK’s two biggest clubs, The Caravan Club and The Camping & Caravanning Club, and is focusing not on specific brands but on promoting the lifestyle, the freedom and the pleasure that can be gained by caravan holidays.
It isn’t an entirely new idea because the industry pioneered a similar scheme in the past, but this time around its organisers are confident of achieving success by picking up on an optimistic mood across the nation with the recent improvements in the economy.
At Practical Caravan, we’re behind it 100%: anything that can bring new people to our hobby, and give the industry a boost at the same time, can only be a good thing.